Getting beaten by your rival is never fun. And when it is an upset of the proportions of Gilbert Perry’s 56-38 win over Chandler Basha last season, a Division II team taking down its rival in Division I, the defeat is extra crushing.
So when the schedule turned to the annual matchup this year, coach Bernie Busken and his Basha team were ready for redemption. It took a while, but Basha finally got it, outscoring Perry 20-0 in the fourth quarter for a 34-14 home victory Friday.
“This is a big rivalry game, and we tried to make it a rivalry,” Busken said. “We didn’t last year, and they kicked our butt, so we tried to get focused.”
Perry (5-3) stuck with Basha through three quarters, as the teams were tied 14-all heading into the fourth quarter. But Basha came out of the gates with a vengeance, as junior running back Rajhan Meriweather broke through a seam up the middle on the quarter’s first play, taking it 49 yards to the end zone to put Basha (6-2) up seven.
Basha’s defense turned into a pack of ball hawks, as it intercepted four Perry passes in the final eight minutes. The most important was the first, as senior cornerback Matt Bailey jumped a Perry hitch route and took the ball back 47 yards for a back-breaking touchdown that made it 27-14.
“I’ve been getting beat on the hitch every game,” Bailey said. “This time I saw it, and I just broke on it and took it to the house. It was a great feeling.”
Senior cornerback Justin Solomon had two of the other three interceptions for Basha. Overall, Basha limited the two-headed Perry passing attack of senior Taelon Parson and sophomore Austin Nightingale, allowing the pair to complete just nine of 22 attempts.
“We slowed them down a little, they had some penalties and then they threw it up,” Busken said. “And our guys break on the ball pretty good.”
Meriweather finished with 125 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries for Basha, which faces Chandler Hamilton on the road next week.
Busken said his team can soak up Friday’s victory before worrying about Hamilton.
“Not until the morning,” he said.