Football: State playoff berth is near

Joel Barlow High’s Steve Miller, left, tries to break free of the graps of Brookfield’s Rock Hergarty during a varsity football game last Thursday, Nov. 15. The Falcons won 29-22 to keep alive their chances for a spot in the state Class M playoffs.—Scott Mullin photo

After suffering its first loss of the season the Joel Barlow High varsity football team got back on track toward its quest for a spot in the state Class M playoffs when it visited Brookfield last week.

The Falcons, who are currently ranked fourth in the Class M standings, took another big step towards their first-ever state playoff berth. Rallying in the second half, they held off the Bobcats 29-22.

Both teams started the game with three and out situations before the Falcons drove 58 yards and scored on a Billy Wilson touchdown when he ran it in from a yard out. Scott Colby added the extra point to make it 7-0 with 2:39 left in the first quarter.

The score remained that way until well into the second frame when the Falcons began a scoring drive on the Bobcat 42. Quarterback Cooper Brown, who had just been cleared to play after recovering from a concussion, hit Steve Miller for a key five-yard completion on fourth down to sustain the drive. Wilson found the end zone for the second time and it was another one-yard score making it 13-0 with 7:38 remaining in the first half.

Brookfield faked a punt on fourth down on its next possession but was stopped as Jordan Eward stopped Boeing Brown a yard short of a first down. The hosts did find the end zone after Barlow failed to convert a fourth down when quarterback Brad Westmark found Boeing Brown for a 55-yard touchdown pass with 55 second left in the half and the latter kicked the extra point to make it 13-7. Boeing Brown ended the half when he intercepted Cooper Brown’s pass as time expired.

When play resumed the Bobcats took a brief lead when Westmark hit Liam Clancy for a 19-yard pass with 8:02 left in the third quarter, making it 14-13 wit the extra point.

It did not last long as the Falcons answered on the second play of their drive when Alex Lockwood broke away on an 85-yard run to bring the score to 20-14 with 7:01 left in the third quarter with the extra point by Colby.

“We made one adjustment on the blocking scheme, simple adjustment, the kids knew it, and John O’Connell laid a hell of a block and Alex was gone,” said Barlow head coach Rob Tynan. “That is the beauty of speed.”

Brookfield return the following kickoff to Joel Barlow’s 32 but it was called back on a personal foul call. The following play it had a holding call and the drive stalled.

The Falcons got a break when they recovered a Brookfield fumble in its own territory. This set up a 30-yard field goal by Colby with 35 seconds left in the third quarter to bring it to 23-14.

They had time for one more scoring drive, culminating with 4:41 left in the game when Lockwood scored from one yard out.

Not giving up, Brookfield made it a seven-point game when it scored on a 16-yard pass from Westmark to Boeing Brown, followed by a pass to Tim Tremeglio for the two-point conversion with 3:13 remaining.

The Falcons recovered Brookfield’s onside kick, and Wilson ran for two first downs, running out the clock in the process.

Lockwood led Barlow in rushing with 175 yards. Wilson had 89. Cooper Brown, who was filling in for an injured Jack Shaban (shoulder), completed two passes for 41 yards.

Defensively, Christian Huribal led Barlow with five tackles and had one sack. Alex Gallaer also had a sack and combined to make one with Davis Bigelow.

Barlow, now 8-1, will now host Weston in the annual Thanksgiving Day game tomorrow (Thursday) at 10 a.m.  Although the game is usually the season-finale both teams have a shot at making the Class M playoffs.

“It is probably the biggest game the school has had in its history and it is always a tight game,” said Tynan. “I think this is the 15th year and we have had four ties. That is unusual.”

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