LaBrae rallies, overcomes 19-point deficit for 43-33 victory over Brookfield
LEAVITTSBURG — Whenever Brookfield and LaBrae meet up, it’s always a slugfest. Both teams know all too well that it’s not over until that final bell.
The Vikings were beat down in the first half and entered the locker room down three scores. During the break, LaBrae woke up, powering back to topple the Warriors, 43-33, in an instant classic.
“Phenomenal,” Vikings coach Jon Elliot said. “We looked in the first half like they wanted to go to homecoming. I went in and told them, ‘If you want to go to homecoming, then just go, because that’s what you played like. We tried to get them up, tried to make some adjustments and they came out and just played. The first half was the first time I could say we really didn’t play, but in the second half, no matter what the score is we battled and tonight we were able to turn that tide.”
After Brookfield went into the locker room with a 26-7 lead, LaBrae pushed back in the third quarter, marching down the field and capping the drive off with a 2-yard run by Davin Derry.
On Brookfield’s responding drive, the Viking defense smothered Brookfield’s Josh Rankin, and pressured him into throwing a pass right to Owen Meeks. Meeks took it back 45 yards to the house, erasing a 26-7 deficit almost instantly.
Derry, the homecoming king, had a strong performance rushing for three touchdowns and an additional interception return.
“I love him and he’s a great player, but there are times if I could come down from the press boxes and strangle him, I would,” Elliot said with a laugh. “But he’s that type of player where he just seems to make plays when you need them, and he did a good job tonight. I can’t say enough about him and the other seniors too.”
The fourth quarter was all Vikings as LaBrae stormed back. The Vikings opened the quarter with a double reverse touchdown run by Jay McGarry, then on the ensuing kickoff, forced a safety. After the safety punt, LaBrae found the endzone once again, with Derry rushing in from nine yards out to put the Vikings up, a lead which they’d maintain and grow with Derry’s pick-six.
Freshman Rico Smith continued his dominant streak for Brookfield, rushing for three first-half touchdowns and four total.
The youth that has propelled the Warriors all season wound up being its undoing, as youthful mistakes plagued Brookfield throughout the second half.
“Just mentally, the youth kicked in and we made a lot of mental mistakes and stupid decisions,” Warriors coach Randy Clark said. “(It makes sense in) maybe week three or four but not in five and six. We played really well in weeks three and four with the same youth and then all of a sudden it turned around and started biting us.”
Brookfield (3-4) returns home for the next two weeks. First up is Campbell Memorial.
The Vikings move to 4-3 on the season and are currently hosting a playoff game as the eighth seed according to the projected computer rankings. The thought is in the back of their minds, but the focus is on next week and next week alone.
“We have talked about taking it one game at a time, and we’re not going to worry about the rest,” Elliot said. “Of course it’s always in the back of our minds, but we try to make them concentrate on one game. We’re going to enjoy this and we’re going to get busy with Liberty and we’re going to play that game. That’s all we’re going to worry about for right.”
LaBrae looks to keep its momentum rolling against a very skilled Leopards team.
“They’ve got more skill than anybody,” Elliot said. “That’s kind of one thing that hurts us the most (this year) but I haven’t watched them a lot on film. We’ll have to see, but I know they’re skilled, really skilled.”