By Kevin connelly
Struthers was staring at a third-and-20 from the Brookfield 25-yard line just two plays into the fourth quarter.
The Warriors had battled back to make the score 14-7 late in the third after getting pushed around at the line of scrimmage for most of the game.
Senior running back Nick Pollifrone, who had done the majority of his damage on the ground to that point, ran a pass route out of the backfield and managed to get a step behind the Brookfield secondary.
“He was tired,” Struthers coach Curt Kuntz said. “He was gassed and that was just all want — you can’t coach that.”
Wildcats quarterback Gary Muntean appeared to have overthrown Pollifrone in the end zone, but the 6-foot back used every inch he had to stretch out and make a diving one-handed touchdown catch.
“Yeah, I didn’t feel like I was gonna get to it,” Pollifrone said with a smile. “But we have a great quarterback, he trusted me to go get it and I did.”
Struthers (4-0) went up two touchdowns and would add one more to win 26-7 and hand Brookfield (3-1) its first regular season loss since 2011, and its first home defeat since the 2010 season.
“It hurts,” Brookfield coach Randy Clark said. “We’re not all about streaks, I mean we’re all about 2013 right now, but we’ve got plenty of opportunities left to start another streak.”
The Wildcats ran wild on a Brookfield defense that had averaged just 13 points against them through the first three weeks. Pollifrone, Luke Witkowski, and Michael Sullivan combined to rush for 290 yards on 37 carries. The three-headed monster gashed the Warriors up front, often picking up five yards before first contact.
“It starts with the five guys up front,” Kuntz said. “Add in two good tight ends and a fullback, it’s pretty easy for guys to do their job and run the ball.”
Much too easy for Clark, and Brookfield’s, liking.
“We knew going into it this was a very good Struthers team,” he said. “We knew going into tonight we needed every break we could possibly get and we didn’t get the ones we should’ve got.”
Clark’s referring to the four instances Struthers put the ball on the ground, but was still able to retain possession. The other thing that hurt the Wildcats were penalties negating big plays.
In the first half, a Temeko Holness touchdown reception was called back because of a penalty.
“Was it only a couple?” Kuntz asked sarcastically about the penalties. “I guess shooting ourselves in the foot, or whatever you want to call it with the penalties, is hard overcoming those all the time, but once we took care of that situation I think we moved the ball OK.”
Brookfield struggled the entire night on offense. It was held to negative eight rushing yards in the first half, yet was only trailing by seven points heading into the locker room. They finally got on the scoreboard late in the third quarter thanks to Augustus Necastro’s seven- yard pass to Nate Morrison.