Park drops Brooke
WHEELING – On a night where speed killed, Brooke coach Sean Blumette wasn’t talking about Wheeling Park’s offensive speed, which set an unofficial single-game, school record with 412 yards on the ground.
Blumette’s focus, after his team’s 34-16 setback to the Patriots at Wheeling Island Stadium, was on the other side of the ball.
“What beat us (Friday night) was Park’s speed on the defensive side of the ball,” Brooke’s second-year coach said. “There was no way for us to adequately prepare for that. It’s hard for us to simulate that speed, to replicate those athletes. That would be hard for a lot of teams.”
Blumette’s point is based on the evidence. Brooke finished with 55 yards rushing – barely more than yards per carry. The Bruins did pass for 127 yards, but that was not enough to keep up with Patriots, who ran right off the bat and they never really slowed down.
Bryce Ingram, in his second game back from a stress fracture in his back, showed little ill effects, rushing for 188 yards and three touchdowns that covered 68, 53 and 45 yards.
For a player who wasn’t even sure he’d play this year, Ingram made his presence known right off the bat.
On the first play from scrimmage, Ingram took the ball outside, found a seam, and raced 68 yards to stun the Bruins.
Not bad for a guy who suffered what he thought was a pinched nerve in his back, only to later find out it was a stress fracture that had been treated wrongly.
“I was talking to my dad before the season and he said he thought that I’d be back by the fifth game of the season,” Ingram said. “Honestly, I wasn’t sure that I would be back at all. I felt that way. To be back and playing again, in the fourth game of the season, is a blessing. I can’t take credit for it. It sure feels good to bounce back in a win like this though.”
Father obviously knew best.
So did coach Chris Daugherty.
“We saw a little rust last week,” Daugherty said. “Your talking about a kid who not only missed two games, but two scrimmages. His last football game was our playoff game last year. For him to come out like he did is a credit to him. He missed a few reads, and he’ll be the first to admit that. But he’s coming along.”
So is sophomore Savion Johnson, who backed his senior backfield mate with 155 yards on 21 carries and a score, his coming from 38 yards out when he broke free from a scrum and danced into the end zone to give Park a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
The Patriots (4-0) had gone up 14-0 on an 18-yard pass from Zach Phillips to Chalmer Moffett, well earned after he cleared the path for Ingram on his first TD run.
The Bruins did get on the board late in the first half, sacking Phillips in the end zone for a safety, to trail 21-2.
They weren’t quite done.
They came out in the second half and jumped on the Patriots, using a 29-yard touchdown pass from Heath Hildreth to Thomas Cole on a halfback pass and then Matt Lazear returned an interception 61 yards to cut the once seemingly insurmountable Park lead to 21-16 with 3:10 into the half.
The Bruins looked poised to take a lead after a muffed punt by Park was whistled dead at the Patriots 29.
However, Elijah Bell came up with a save when he intercepted a pass three plays later to quell that drive.
“That was a huge play,” Daugherty said. “I give all the credit to Brooke for coming out in the second half ready to play. Our kids didn’t quit, they stayed on course. I’ve been here in year’s past when we would have fell apart in that situation.”
“That was huge,” Blumette said. “We got ourselves in position to get into a good position and we kind of shot ourselves in the foot. It was a good play by (Bell). He jumped the route. I couldn’t tell if it was tipped at the line or what, but it was a big play for Park.”
Ingram later put away any further Brooke (1-4) comeback attempts with two touchdown runs that sealed the game.
“I’m proud of our kids for battling tonight,” Blumette said. “We could have folded. We didn’t. We’ll look at this tape and we’ll see some bad things but we will also see some good things.”
For Park, it has a potential record, but the work is far from done.
“Any time we get a win over Brooke, it’s a good one,” Daugherty said. “We had a good game, the kids played well and we were fortunate to come out on top. But it’s just Game 4. We have a lot left. We could finish 4-6. Anything is possible.”
With that speed, it’s not likely.