In a game of overwhelming offensive performances, Brownstown Central’s football team used a couple of well-timed defensive plays to escape from Charlestown with a thrilling 52-48 victory Friday night.
After watching their commanding 18-point lead vanish and then morph into a discouraging 10-point deficit, the Braves (2-0) battled back into the lead in the final minutes and used key sacks from Cameron Eggersman and Lendon Underwood and a late interception by Carson Lambring to secure the win.
“I’m very proud of the kids,” BC head coach Reed May said. “Even though it didn’t go our way in the second half, they hung in there and hung in there and kept battling.”
The game’s abrupt momentum shift in Charlestown’s favor occurred in the second quarter. Brownstown held a 30-12 lead and looked ready to add to that advantage when an apparent downfield pass interference penalty against Gavin Bane went uncalled on a third-and-11 play. Instead of a touchdown, the Braves were forced to punt.
That’s when a dormant Charlestown came to life.
The Pirates (1-1) scored touchdowns on six of their next seven possessions and had a seemingly comfortable 48-38 lead with 8:56 left in the game.
Brownstown got its own game-changing call moments later when a helmet-to-helmet personal foul on Charlestown turned a potential fourth-and-17 into a Brave first down on the Pirates’ 12 yard line. The Braves took advantage of the situation, getting a one-yard Kyle Kramer TD run and, on their next possession, a 27-yard go-ahead touchdown run by Gus Hogan to take a four-point lead with 2:43 remaining in the game.
On Charlestown’s next possession, the same offense that punished the Braves defense suddenly couldn’t move forward. A holding penalty and Eggersman’s sack pushed the Pirates back to their 7 yard line, setting up Lambring’s interception of a Brendan Lawler pass at the Charlestown 42 with 1:51 to go.
“Coach (Shane) Fallis did a great job mixing up our defense between blitz and coverage,” May said. “When (Lambring) picked it off, I thought we had it.”
Lambring said his big defensive play was just a matter of responsibility.
“I figured it was getting close to the end of the game, and they were going to pass,” the senior said. “My responsibility is to get deep and not get beaten. I just made a play on the ball. I was excited. I thought we won the game right there. It was very emotional.”
Charlestown forced a Brownstown punt with 52 ticks on the clock and worked the ball to midfield before Underwood ended the game by sacking Lawler.
“(This win) shows a lot about this team,” Lambring said. “We’ve got a lot of heart, we don’t quit.”
Friday’s game was a stats junkie’s dream.
The two teams combined for 100 points, 940 total yards from scrimmage, 23 plays from scrimmage of more than 10 yards — 11 of which went for greater than 40 yards — and 13 touchdowns.
“They’ve got a lot of athletes,” May said. “We stopped their base offense pretty well, but then they went to a bunch formation, and we didn’t stop that at all. They did a good job.”
Charlestown finished with two 100-yard rushers, Antonyo Gaddie (13 carries, 163 yards) and Lawler (20 carries, 131 yards). Lawler also threw for 199 yards on 9-for-22 passing.
Of course, Brownstown countered with a pretty good collection of athletes.
Bane, one week removed from a 20-point game vs. Paoli, followed with 22 points, 108 rushing yards (on 11 carries) and 139 yards in kickoff returns against Charlestown.
The senior started the game with an 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and later added scoring runs of 37 and 16 yards.
Also topping 100 yards rushing was Hogan, who ended with 104 yards on eight carries to go along with his game-winning TD.
Kramer finished with 51 yards on the ground and 76 through the air on 4-for-10 passing.
Sixty-seven of Kramer’s passing yards went to Lambring, including a tumbling, acrobatic 41-yard TD reception that got Brownstown’s comeback started in earnest late in the third quarter.
Defensively, Eggersman led with nine tackles.
Eggersman, Hogan, Bane, Noah Reynolds and Joe Barnes each contributed a tackle for loss. Lambring, Derek Rieckers and Andrew Murphy each broke up Lawler passes.
Friday’s victory advances Brownstown’s hopes for another Mid-Southern Conference title, but May said such tough, back-and-forth contests pay greater dividends.
“We’re trying to win sectionals,” said the veteran coach, who reached 230 career wins on Friday. “A game like this offers two things. First, a tournament atmosphere and, second, a great opponent. We get an idea of how to get better. It’s going to help us down the road.”