Brunswick Football Pride on Display Against Trinity Pawling
The Trinity Pawling football team gave Brunswick School everything they had Saturday afternoon. However, the Bruins settled down in the second half and pulled out the 26-16 Homecoming victory at Cosby Field.
“It’s very important for us to come out here and get a victory on Homecoming,” Brunswick head coach Jarrett Shine said. “The alumni here were looking forward to a great game. They told me that I needed to guarantee them a game, so that was a little nerve-racking. But at the end of the day I am glad that they support the program. It’s a great feeling.”
In a back-and-forth battle, Brunswick was holding on to a slim 12-9 halftime lead and was trailing 16-12 early in the fourth quarter. However, that’s when the Bruins kicked it up a notch on both sides of the ball to escape with the victory.
“This feels great,” running back Kieran Dowley said. “The atmosphere was great and I am so happy and pleased that we can play this way in front of the alumni. A lot of the difference in the way we played in the second half was defense-orientated. We messed up some plays, but I think our defense got their minds right and Nick Henkel at quarterback really did a great job leading us to victory.”
After the Pride took the 16-12 lead, Brunswick got the ball back, but it didn’t last long, as a fumble turned the ball back over to Trinity Pawling two plays into the drive.
But Brunswick’s defense really stepped it up. On Trinity Pawling’s first play after the fumble, Jourdon Delerme-Brown read the Pride’s pattern, netted the interception and sprinted 32 yards up the middle of the field to the Trinity Pawling 38.
Aided by a Trinity Pawling 15-yard penalty and a 10-yard reception by Dowley, the Bruins had possession of the ball at the Trinity Pawling 3. Although a high snap that was recovered by quarterback Nick Henkel nearly ruined the day, two plays later, Henkel stepped back on third down and goal and found Sean Morris in the middle of the end zone for the touchdown at 19-16 lead with 7:22 to play.
“It was a great comeback and we were really happy to be playing in front of a huge crowd,” Morris said. “It really fired us up in the beginning. We started off slow, but once our defense started to get going, they fired us up and the offense really took it from there. After that touchdown that I caught that gave us the lead, it felt amazing. I knew that from there our defense would close it out and we would take the win.”
And that they did. The Pride got the ball on their 25-yard line to start the drive. The first play ended in a two-yard loss, courtesy of Brunswick defenders John Fox and Jack Mendillo applying the tackle to running back Khaleed Exum-Strong. The next play went much worse for Trinity Pawling, as Strong fumbled the ball off a botched handoff and the Bruins had possession at the Trinity Pawling 23.
Now that the Brunswick defense did its part, it was time for the offense to close things out on Homecoming and the duo of Henkel and Dowley took it from there. On fourth down and 12, Henkel found Dowley up the middle for 21 yards. Four plays later, it was the same situation, as Brunswick was in a fourth down and goal at the 15 due to a penalty.
Instead of trying a field goal against a stiff wind, Shine kept the offense out.
“I think it was important for us,” Shine said. “If we missed the field goal, they would get the ball at the 25 and with a lot of time to make something happen. For us, it was a no-brainer. I have so much confidence in our defense and offensive coordinators. Joe Early has all the plays in his head ahead of time and made a great call. He made great calls all game.”
Henkel snapped the ball and darted out of the pocket towards the Trinity Pawling sideline and that’s when he found Dowley open in the corner of the end zone for the leaping reception and touchdown to ice the game.
“We were really down low, but Nick and Coach really helped us keep our heads straight and let us know that if we got this drive in, it would be our game.”
Early on, it was Trinity Pawling that surprised the Bruins, scoring 41 seconds into the game to make the score 7-0. Brunswick came back to start the second quarter. Off a Nick Mosher fumble recovery, Jason Kennedy took the handoff and sprinted 15 yards down the field for the touchdown with 9:12 left in the first half.
With 3:34 to play in the half and on fourth down, Dowley grabbed the short slant pass from Henkel and blasted 61 yards down the field for the touchdown.
“We get on him a lot during practice at times when he makes some mistakes, but he had a fantastic day today,” said Shine, talking about Dowley. “He made a couple of huge catches and had a couple of key touchdowns. I am so proud of him.”
Then came a play that is quite uncommon in high school football. On the two-point conversion try, Henkel fired toward the end zone, but the ball was picked off by linebacker Ricky Norris. He grabbed the ball at the 5-yard line and ran 95 yards down the Brunswick sideline to give Trinity Pawling two points and make the score 12-9.
“The first half wasn’t our best football, but we came back in the locker room at halftime and talked about if we play our best, good things will happen,” Shine said. “We needed to refocus because our emotions kind of got out of control in the first half with Homecoming, but we came back in the second half ready to go. I am so proud of the defense and how they handled themselves. They came up big and then the offense maintained our composure and drove the ball down the field.”
The Bruins can enjoy a Homecoming victory and keeping the undefeated season going strong. However, it’s back to work shortly as Brunswick will have a tough game next weekend against Salisbury School.
“We need to recover because this game was very physical,” Shine said. “And then we need to prepare like we prepared for Trinity Pawling. They are a big, physical football team that likes to run the ball, so obviously defensively we have to come up strong. Offensively we have to put points on the board. We know that it’s going to be a battle.”