Despite heartbreaker against Kent, Brunswick football still motivated

The Brunswick School football team gains some yardage during last night's game against Kent School. — Avery Belicka photo

The Brunswick School football team gains some yardage during last night’s game against Kent School. — Avery Belicka photo

It was a wild finish to a highly-entertaining football game at Cosby Field.

During Brunswick School’s season-opener against Kent School, the Bruins were trailing by seven when quarterback Billy O’Malley found Henry Taylor in the back corner of the end zone with 1:14 to play in the game. Instead of going for the tie, Brunswick School head coach Jarrett Shine didn’t even flinch when he sent his offense back on the field for the two-point conversion attempt.

However, the Bruins weren’t able to tack on any more points, as O’Malley just missed hitting receiver Charlie Cobb in the end zone and Brunswick fell 40-39 to the Lions under the lights at Cosby Field Friday night.

Brunswick School quarterback Billy O'Malley gets ready to snap the ball during Friday night's game against Kent School. — Avery Belicka photo

Brunswick School quarterback Billy O’Malley gets ready to snap the ball during Friday night’s game against Kent School. — Avery Belicka photo

“We didn’t connect on that pass,” Shine said. “I think it was a gutsy call going for two. I felt like we had to go for two because our field goal unit wasn’t working the way I was hoping they would. We had to go for two. We talked about it before Kent scored. It wasn’t something we decided to do at the last minute.”

Trailing 40-33, Brunswick used its stellar running game and timely passing to produce a 13-play, 66-yard drive that ended with Taylor’s fourth touchdown reception of the game.

“I am proud of our guys for hanging in there,” Kent head coach Todd Marble said. “I give Brunswick all the credit in the world. They played their heart’s out and had a great game plan. They are well-coached and their kids played hard. Frankly, we were on our heels almost the entire game.”

Henry finished the game with touchdown receptions of 32 yards, 12 yards and two seven-yard scores. The duo of Cobb and Malik Wilder each added touchdown receptions for the Bruins.

“At the beginning of the season, we talked about our players having heart and giving us 100%,” Shine said. “There is no doubt in my mind that our players gave 100% tonight. They fought hard throughout the entire game. I told them to keep their head’s high and focus on the next game.”

Although Kent came back in the third quarter and knotted the game at 26-26, Brunswick didn’t back down. The Bruins got the ball at the end of the third quarter and reached the end zone with 9:14 to play in the game to make the score 33-26. Although Henry caught the ball in the back corner of the end zone for the seven-yard reception, it was Wadsworth’s 15-yard reception that got the ball into the red zone and kept the drive alive.

Kent wasn’t phased. On the ensuing Brunswick kickoff, Kent’s Zach Foster returned the ball 71 yards and gave the Lions the ball at the Brunswick 33. LaPorta got the handoff on the next play and ran it in for the touchdown.

It appeared the Bruins reclaimed the lead with 8:24 to play, as O’Malley threw a strike to Henry, who caught the ball at the 25-yard line and ran it in the rest of the way for the 67-yard touchdown completion, however holding on Brunswick brought the play back.

A few plays later, O’Malley was hit in the arm while darting down the field on a run and Kent scooped up the loose ball. A few plays later, LaPorta netted the 1-yard touchdown run to give Kent the lead for good.

“At halftime I told the kids that I didn’t think they could play as poorly as they did, with all the mistakes they made, and still be in the ballgame,” Marble said. “I wanted them to be confident, take it one play at a time. We were still playing on our heels in the third quarter, but when plays had to be made, some key kids stepped up and made the plays.”

Early in the contest, it was all Brunswick, as the Bruins were able to dominate play throughout most of the first half.

Before Kent could blink they were trailing 8-0. Brunswick took their first possession and applied the heavy pressure. Going no-huddle throughout most of the drive, Brunswick’s O’Malley hit the play action and fired a missile down the middle of the field to Henry for the touchdown. The duo again connected for the two-point conversion with 10:09 left in the first.

Although the Lions responded on a nine-yard run by Matthew LaPorta with 4:34 left in the first, Brunswick worked the clock and finished off a 16-play drive when Charlie Cobb caught the ball in mid stride down the middle of the end zone for the five-yard score. Highlights from the drive were a 20-yard reverse play to Cobb on third down and 14 and a four-yard missile strike to Malik Wilder on fourth down and two.

The duo of Wilder and Taylor struck again in the second quarter, each finding the end zone to help the Bruins extend its lead on Kent School to 26-12. Not to be outdone was O’Malley. While he was solid in finding his open receivers, the quarterback also did a good job running out of the pocket or dishing the ball to Kennedy or Brandon Johnston in the backfield.

“I told our offensive line at the beginning of the season that if we were unable to run the ball, we wouldn’t be able to pass it either,” Shine said. “I think we did a very good job establishing the line of scrimmage with the run game and they did very well.”

With the loss, Brunswick fell to 0-1 on the season while the Lions improved to 1-0. Brunswick will be back in action Saturday at 2 p.m. when they hit the road for a game against Taft School.

“We need to do a better job tackling, wrapping up and making the plays on the defensive side of the ball,” Shine said. “We created a lot of turnovers tonight and I told my kids that the offense put a lot of points on the board, but it was the defense that kept us in the game.”

The Brunswick School football team opens it season with a Friday night game against Kent School. — Avery Belicka photo

The Brunswick School football team opens it season with a Friday night game against Kent School. — Avery Belicka photo

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