FOOTBALL: Braves stage major comeback to win Battle of the Nations

by Sep 4, 2023SPORTS di-ne-lv-di-yi0 comments

One Feather Staff Report


The Cherokee Braves (2-1) fell behind the Choctaw Central Warriors (0-2) by three scores early in the annual Battle of the Nations game, but they didn’t quit.  Cherokee doubled Choctaw Central’s points (34-17) in the second half to win the game, held at Choctaw Central (Miss.) on Friday, Sept. 1, in dramatic fashion 41-37.

The Cherokee Braves pose with the Battle of the Nations trophy following a 41-37 win at Choctaw (Miss.) on Friday, Sept. 1. (Cherokee Central Schools Athletics photo)

With under a minute in the game, Cherokee’s Elijah Lineberry caught a Michael Driver pass for a 28-yard touchdown.  Nathaniel Littlejohn added the extra point to give the Braves a four-point lead.  Choctaw attempted several long passes in the waning seconds, but none connected and the Braves won the game.

Driver, Braves senior quarterback, completed 18 of 35 passes for 275 yards, 5 TDs, and 2 INTs.  Jonathon Saylor was his top target on the night with 7 receptions for 119 yards and 2 TDs (7 and 36 yds).  Lineberry ended the game with 4 receptions for 60 yards and 1 TD (28 yds).  Luke Smith had 4 receptions for 46 yards and 2 TDs (12 and 7 yds).

Cherokee had a total of 396 total offensive yards to Choctaw’s 218.  The game was turnover-heavy with Cherokee having 5 and Choctaw with 3.

Mato Grant, Braves senior running back, accounted for just under half of Cherokee’s 121 total rushing yards with 56 yards on 9 attempts and 1 TD (28 yd).  Lineberry had 40 yards on 7 attempts and Driver had 25 yards on 10 attempts.

Cherokee’s defense was led by Luke Climbingbear with 7 assists, 6 solo tackles, and 1 fumble recovery.  Full defensive stats for the Braves are as follows: Lineberry, 1 assist, 1 solo, 1 pass broken up, 1 interception; Driver, 1 solo; Smith, 7 assist, 1 solo, 1 sack; Saylor, 1 assist, 3 solo, 1 pass broken up; Shiloh Woodson, 1 assist, 2 solo, 1 fumble caused; Josiah Teesateskie, 2 assist, 2 solo; Tayvin Bark, 1 assist; Michael Gayosso, 1 solo; J’Ron Lineberry, 4 assists, 2 solo, 2 fumble recoveries; Grant, 5 assists; Chaske Raines, 6 assists, 3 solo; Tramper, 1 assist; and Emery Driver, 1 assist.

The Braves host Rosman (0-3) at Ray Kinsland Stadium on Friday, Sept. 8 at 7:30 p.m.