Brunswick football wins NEPSAC Wayne Sanborn Bowl over Governor’s

The Brunswick School football team celebrates its victory over Governor's Academy with the NEPSAC Wayne Sanborn trophy after Saturday's game at Avon Old Farms. — Paul Silverfarb photo

The Brunswick School football team celebrates its victory over Governor’s Academy with the NEPSAC Wayne Sanborn trophy after Saturday’s game at Avon Old Farms. — Paul Silverfarb photo

The Brunswick School football team had a rare opportunity on Saturday and Jarrett Shine and the rest of the Bruins weren’t going to let it slip away this time around.

Traveling to Avon Old Farms Saturday afternoon, site of last year’s Jack Etter Bowl in which Brunswick lost a heartbreaker after leading by 14 points at halftime, the Bruins used a stellar performance from quarterback Billy O’Malley and the team’s defense to capture the NEPSAC Wayne Sanborn Bowl and beat Governor’s Academy 46-20.

“It feels great,” Shine said. “We’ve been thinking about this day since the beginning of last season walking off this field. We didn’t want to walk of the field the same way. We worked 12 weeks for this day. These guys worked so hard. Everybody had a role to play on this team and they did it very well. We came together as a family and I’m so proud of what they were able to accomplish this year.”

For the Bruins, Spencer Decker found the end zone three times, while Sean Morris scored two touchdown receptions. Malik Wilder caught one touchdown reception and Rich Walston had Brunswick’s lone running touchdown.

“This feeling is unbelievable right now,” Wilder said. “After what happened to us last year and being able to come back here and do this is amazing. In practice we made sure to focus on all the little things like getting out on time, running our routes crisp and running to the best of our ability. We also did a lot of extra conditioning, so we would be gassed like we were last year in the second half. This is so rewarding. All the hard work has paid off.”

Saturday’s victory against Governor’s Academy (7-2) was a dream come true for Brunswick. The Wayne Sanborn Bowl was played exactly one year and a day since Brunswick’s (7-1) heartbreaking 35-28 loss to Andover in the Jack Etter Bowl, a game in which the Bruins held a two touchdown lead with 24 minutes to play.

During last year’s bowl game, O’Malley was stellar, as he picked up 312 yards and threw for four touchdown. This time around, O’Malley made his last Brunswick football game his most memorable, throwing six touchdown and amassing 271 yards of offense.

“This is unbelievable,” O’Malley said. “To get in the victory formation and kneel down on the ball like that is something I will never forget. My freshman year we had one win and my sophomore year we had two. Last year we broke through, but we remembered the feeling that we had last year when we left this field. We weren’t going to let that happen again. We worked so hard all summer and were motivated to get back here and get another shot.”

Knowing that Governor’s Academy is a powerhouse on with its ground game and has accurate passing from quarterback Seth Harrell, Shine wanted to throw out every play in the book during the Wayne Sanborn Bowl. That started from the opening kickoff, as the Bruins recovered an onside kick and got the ball on the its 45-yard line.

Brunswick quarterback Billy O'Malley rushes out of the pocket during the first half of Saturday's Wayne Sanborn Bowl at Avon Old Farms. — Paul Silverfarb photo

Brunswick quarterback Billy O’Malley rushes out of the pocket during the first half of Saturday’s Wayne Sanborn Bowl at Avon Old Farms. — Paul Silverfarb photo

After a 24-yard keeper by O’Malley got the series off the ground, O’Malley went to the air two plays later and found Morris in the end zone for the 31-yard touchdown strike with 10:21 left.

“We had to pull out all the stops,” Shine said. “We worked on a lot different trick plays throughout the season and especially this week because we knew we were playing a very tough Governor’s Academy football team. We knew it was going to be a hard-fought battle and were going to have to play our best football game in order to beat them.”

After sacks by Alex Russel and Jack Knight forced Governor’s into a punt, Brunswick’s offense got the ball at midfield and once again quickly found the end zone. After a 8-yard screen to Walston and a 3-yard run by Jason Kennedy, O’Malley stepped back and fired a missile to Morris in for the 39-yard touchdown reception and 12-0 lead.

“This is awesome,” Knight said. “It’s really amazing right now. We knew they were a really good team, but also knew that we are a good team. We knew that if we played harder than them and worked harder than them, we would come out with more points on the scoreboard. This is for all the seniors last year who couldn’t win. The road has been really hard, but it’s so nice to be a champion.”

Although Governor’s Academy came back with a long drive that ended in a 2-yard touchdown run by Brandon Lopez, the Bruins came right back.

On the kickoff return, Wilder grabbed the ball at the 25-yard line, ducked a few tackles and sprinted down the field to the Governor’s 10.

The Brunswick sideline gives head coach Jarrett Shine a Gatorade bath in the waning moments of the Wayne Sanborn Bowl. — Paul Silverfarb photo

The Brunswick sideline gives head coach Jarrett Shine a Gatorade bath in the waning moments of the Wayne Sanborn Bowl. — Paul Silverfarb photo

“Not to many people get second chances and we knew that coming in here,” said Wilder, who found the end zone with a 30-yard reception in the second quarter. “We just put everything into it. We knew this was the last game for the seniors and for many of us this is our last organized football game of our career. We came out with a lot of heart and did what we had to do so that way we could leave here with the championship. All the seniors won this for the seniors that lost here last year.”

After two plays of not picking up any yards, O’Malley threw out the reverse, as Walston cut to the left side and coasted in for the touchdown and 19-7 lead with 9:49 left in the first half.

The Bruins found the end zone once more in the first half. Feeding off a 15-yard completion from O’Malley to Knight and a 25-yard completion to Wilder in the flat, Brunswick was faced with a third down an 11 at the Governor’s 30.

Instead of panicking, O’Malley kept his composure and found Wilder in the middle of the field. Wilder caught the ball mid-stride and immediately crossed the goal line for the 26-14 halftime lead.

“He’s been our field general throughout the season and he brought a lot of poise to this football team,” Shine said. “He made a lot of the plays and was there to start everything. He’s our inspirational leader and we really appreciate him being on this team.”

With the Bruins in front of the favored Governor’s Academy, it seemed all too familiar for Shine.

“We learned from last year being up by 14 at the half,” said Shine, talking about his team at halftime. “We have to stay under control. I felt like our emotions were all over the place. Guys were yelling at each other and weren’t supporting each other like a family. I told them to calm down, play our tempo of football and I think we will be okay in the second half.”

Brunswick gained the ball to start the second half and went into its bag of tricks on the first series. With a fourth goal and goal at the Governor’s 5, the Bruins set up for a field goal.

Instead, the ball was snapped to Knight, who rolled out and at the last possible second before getting slammed to the ground, fired a perfectly-placed ball to Decker in the back corner of the end zone for the touchdown with 9:14 left in the third.

From there, the game was sealed when Decker netted a 22-yard reception to close out the third and in the final minutes of the fourth he connected with O’Malley for an 8-yard touchdown reception to close out the scoring.

“It feels good,” Shine said. “The last two years prior to last season, we had a very rough start in this new league. I kept on telling the kids that they have to believe in our ability to play in this league and conference. They started playing with a lot of confidence and that had a lot to do with it.”

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