For The Tribune
Coming off of a week-long fall break, Brownstown Central’s football team looked sluggish at times but still had more than enough to claim a 43-18 victory against Salem on Friday night.
The win moves the Braves into next week’s Class 3A Sectional 31 semifinals, where they will travel to take on either Heritage Hills or Charlestown.
“We did some things that are not characteristic of our team,” Brownstown head coach Reed May said. “Hopefully, we got this out of our system. We’re going to have to play better than this next week.”
Friday’s win was Brownstown Central’s second against Salem (3-7) this season and the Braves’ 23rd victory against the Lions in their last 24 meetings, a run stretching back to 1995.
Quarterback Kyle Kramer scored three touchdowns on Friday to lead the Braves (8-2) to their latest win over the Lions. Along with a two-point conversion, the junior scored 20 of Brownstown’s points. He ran for 60 yards and threw for another 149 yards on 6-for-12 passing.
“(Kramer) was probably hurt by not playing running back last season,” May said. “He’s just starting to learn how to run, to find his lanes. The last two games, he has run the ball really well.”
Kramer scored on runs of five, one and seven yards.
“It feels like I’m coming into it,” Kramer said of his running. “I think I did a good job running it tonight.”
Kramer’s first TD was set up when he connected with Cam Shoemaker on an 80-yard pass play on BC’s first offensive snap.
John McKinney (25 yards) and Ryan Benter (12) followed with TD runs to give Brownstown a 22-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
After Salem sneaked a touchdown just before halftime, two Kramer TDs and a 39-yard scoring run by Justin Donnells extended BC’s lead to 43-6 early in the fourth quarter.
Salem added two late scores, the first aided by three missed tackles by BC and the second made possible by a successful fake punt.
Despite the momentary lapses, Brownstown’s defense provided plenty of big plays. Benter, Donnells, Jacob Brewer, Gavin Bane, Devin Stuckwisch and Matthew Lucas all contributed tackles for loss.
Benter and Tyler Neal each recovered a fumble, while Bane, Shoemaker and Derek Rieckers had pass breakups.
Offensively, the Braves were led on the ground by Donnells, who ran for 99 yards on 10 carries. Shoemaker led BC receivers with 93 yards on two catches.
Since losing back-to-back mid-season games, the Braves have now won four straight games by a combined score of 214-37.
“In the games we lost,” Kramer said, “we made a lot of mistakes. But we’re starting to roll now. We’re playing better. We’re where we need to be.”