No fifth straight shutout came Friday for the Firelands Falcons, though they did shut down the Brookside Cardinals 19-13.
The Falcons defense stepped up when most needed. Sean Lipscomb had back-to-back sacks on Brookside’s Hunter Schmeltzer, dropping him for a 15 yard loss at the end of the third quarter and senior Aaron Miller sacked Schmeltzer as time ran out in the final quarter.
Falcons quarterback Bradley Thrasher was first to score for either team, adding six points off a two-yard run into the end zone with less than a minute left in the first quarter.
Brookside answered right back with a 66-yard touchdown pass to Dudley Taw to tie the game.
The Cardinals recovered a Falcons fumble at the start of the second quarter near the 50 yard line. Schmeltzer continued to launch the ball down the field despite strong winds in the first half against the shorter Firelands defensive backs.
Brookside’s Evan Brown-Fugate broke through multiple Firelands defenders to score on a 35-yard touchdown pass to give his team a 13-6 lead. Then the Cardinals intercepted Thrasher’s pass with 42 seconds left before halftime but Cole Ference came up with an interception of his own to give the Falcons the ball with 22 seconds left.
“In the first half we played flat, no doubt,” said Firelands head coach Mike Passerrell.
He said at halftime he talked to his team about going out and playing with passion.
The Thrasher-led squad did just that, with Thrasher running in a 16-yard touchdown to tie the game 13-13 out of the gate to start the third quarter.
The Falcons defense took control of the game by putting pressuring on Schmeltzer and stopping the Brookside running game, denying first down conversions.
The winning TD came when senior Aaron Stevanus broke through the Cardinals defense for a 32-yard run to put his team in the redzone. Thrasher dove into the end zone off a three-yard run to give his team the lead, 19-13.
Firelands’ Jacob Grasso recovered a Brookside fumble on the 30 yard line but the Falcons offense fumbled the ball, giving it back to the Cardinals.
Lipscomb’s two sacks on Schmeltzer and a vicious tackle by senior Victor Bauer behind the line of scrimmage forced the Cardinals to punt on fourth down. The Falcons carried the ball down to the seven yard line but were stopped by the Cardinals on a fourth down push.
Neither team was able to break through their opponent’s defense to score in the final three minutes of the game, leaving the Falcons with the win.
Passerrello said one of his goals in the second half was to control the clock. His offense ran the ball the majority of the final half.
“It was a tale of two halves,” he said. “Brookside out-played us in the first half and we were able to come back in the second half and win it.”
The Falcons improved to 5-1 on the season. Firelands will travel to Wellington to face the Dukes at 7 p.m.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.
Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Civitas Media
Logan Strader tries to run past Brookside’s Jeremiah Edwards in Friday’s 19-13 Falcons homecoming win.