Between the weather and the competition, the Joel Barlow High varsity football team had its hands full against Brookfield last week.
The Falcons, who scored more than 100 points in their first three games, had a tough time finding the end zone on Friday, Sept. 29. While their defense surrendered just two touchdowns, their offense put just one on the scoreboard in a 14-6 loss under steady rain.
“They were big and physical,” said Barlow head coach T.J. Cavaliere. “We anticipated they were going to try and run down at us, especially with the weather being what it is.”
Brookfield, however, did get some help in the form of a couple of Barlow miscues. One came early in the contest when the Falcons were forced to punt.
The snap slipped through the hands of punter Dylan Taylor, who tried to fall on the ball in the end zone, but the Bobcats recovered for the touchdown. Although the extra point failed, the hosts led 6-0.
The game then became a defensive battle and the score remained unchanged until halftime.
The Bobcats received another break early in the second half. Taking the kickoff back to their own 30 yard line, they netted only six yards on the series.
But when Barlow fumbled the ensuing punt, the Bobcats recovered on the visitor’s 23. Such set up their next score, coming on Donovan Loranger’s five-yard run. Kevin Robinson rushed for the two-point conversion, and the Bobcats led 14-0.
Barlow did get a break on its next series in the form of good field position, starting on its own 35 when the kickoff went out of bounds. Runs by quarterback Jack Gilbert, Taylor and Lucas Sergi moved them downfield before finding the end zone on a 26-yard run by Cole Peterson. Although the extra point kick was blocked, the Falcons were back in the game as they trailed 14-6 with 4:40 left in the third quarter.
Threatening on their next series, the Bobcats made it to the Falcon 23 with the help of a 35-yard reception by Thad Balzi. Barlow’s defense would hold up and with an illegal motion penalty called against Brookfield, the former took over on its own 22.
Despite having to punt, the Falcons got the ball back when Keane Horne recovered a fumble on his own 42 with 6:02 left in the game. The drive appeared to stall on fourth down on the Brookfield 43 but a roughing the passer call against the Bobcats gave the Falcons a first down on the 18.
Unfortunately for Barlow, they came up short on fourth down to give the Bobcats the ball on their own 10. By then they were able to simply run out the clock for the win.
“In a game like this, and the weather being what it is, you get some unfortunate plays and tough situations,” said Cavaliere. “The big thing is we have to have guys step up and make plays and unfortunately tonight that did not happen.”
The defending state champs, now 3-1, are currently in second place out of 23 teams in their class, trailing only Granby/Canton for the top spot statewide. The Falcons are off this week before resuming their schedule on Oct. 13 when they visit Masuk at 7 p.m.