By Ed Farrell
Herald Assistant Sports Editor
Brookfield High football team was unable to lay a loss on Liberty last night, but at least the Warriors gained a measure of satisfaction by actually leading the Leopards.
Mack O’Brien returned the game’s opening kickoff 87 yards, and 12 ticks into the season loaded Liberty was losing 7-0.
However the Leopards, led by tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint’s 19-carry, 117-yard rushing effort and Anthony Cleveland’s 5-for-8, 129-yard, 3-touchdown passing performance belted Brookfield 56-21 at Addison Field Thursday night.
The Leopards, with 21 letterwinners returning from a 6-4 team from a year ago boast as much raw talent as any team in the OHSAA, particularly for a Division III contingent. Reportedly, both Toussaint and Isaiah Bell are bound for the University of Michigan.
Liberty laid 377 total yards on the Warriors on only 42 snaps, an average of 8.9 yards per play.
“Heart-wise, we played the best we can play. Athletic ability? We had nothing for them,” admitted Brookfield bench boss Randy Clark. “They’ve got a nice team. Size-wise, athletic-wise, all around. I mean, they’re a good team.”
On Liberty’s ensuing drive following O’Brien’s kickoff return, Toussaint’s 4-yard TD tally culminated a 5-play, 49-yard drive necessitating less than 2 full minutes. The first of Matt Britton’s 7 PATs knotted the count at 7 with 9:22 remaining in the 1st frame.
The Leopards then led 35-13 by the break as Cleveland connected with Bell, Antonio Kinard and Toussaint for touchdown tosses of 16, 47 and 48 yards, respectively, and Cleveland capped a 6-play, 51-yard, 1-minute, 36-second march with a 1-yard plunge.
Sandwiched inbetween Liberty’s largesse was Matt Palumbo’s 65-yard scoring sprint on a 3rd-and-1 option keeper in which he outraced the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Bell who reportedly has 4.5 40-yard dash speed.
The teams traded 3rd-quarter TDs — Jamon Wagner jumped an attempted Palumbo pitch and sprinted 39 yards for the Leopards’ score, then Palumbo and O’Brien collaborated on a 31-yard scoring strike on a 4th-and-8 play, as well as the subsequent 2-point conversion.
But Brookfield, entering the 4th frame trailing 42-21, was spent physically, and Liberty backup tailback Nico Minniti mustered 9- and 41-yard TD runs.
O’Brien returned 4 kickoffs for 176 yards (44 yards per), rushed 10 times for 36 yards, caught the TD toss and added an endzone interception, while Palumbo produced a 15-carry, 145-yard performance on the ground.
“They gutted it out, and that’s what they’re going to have to do all year,” Clark confided regarding his senior backfield tandem. “We lose one guy on the opening kickoff (senior Ian O’Neil, possibly to a right ACL injury, though that has not been officially confirmed) and we had to make three (position) changes before the game even started.”
The Warriors were able to generate 241 total yards on 46 plays (5.2 yards/play), and Clark assessed,
“Heart-wise, I think our kids reacted very well; physical-wise, I think our kids did well, but we were just outmanned.”
LIBERTY 7 28 7 14 56
BROOKFIELD 7 6 8 0 21
B — O’Brien, 87 kickoff return (O’Brien kick)
L — Toussaint, 4 run (Britton kick)
L — Bell, 16 pass from Cleveland (Britton kick)
L — Kinard, 47 pass from Cleveland (Britton kick)
B — Palumbo, 65 run (kick failed)
L — Cleveland 1 run (Britton kick)
L — Toussaint, 48 pass from Cleveland (Britton kick)
L — Wagner, 39 interception return (Britton kick)
B — O’Brien, 31 pass from Palumbo (O’Brien pass from Palumbo)\
L — Minniti, 9 run (Britton kick)
L — Minniti, 41 run (Stanovcak kick)
16 First downs 7
248 Rushing yards 210
129 Passing yards 31
8-5-1 Att-comp-int 6-1-1
377 Total yards 241
4-2 Fumbles-lost 4-1
6-65 Penalties-yards lost 10-70
Rushing: LIBERTY — Toussaint 19-117, Minniti 6-61, Pennington 4-53, Kinard 3-9, Martin 1-1; BROOKFIELD — Palumbo 15-145, O’Brien 10-36, Sulick 9-19, Pascale 4-6, Sydlowski 2-4.
Passing: LIBERTY — Cleveland 8-5-1, 129; BROOKFIELD — Palumbo 6-1-1, 31.
Receiving: LIBERTY — Kinard 2-58, Bell 2-23, Toussaint 1-48; BROOKFIELD — O’Brien 1-31.
By Ed Farrell
Roundup: Farrell rolls past SR; Hickory edges Meadville at 'House of Thrills'
There’s one certain method of jump-starting a basketball team’s lethargic offense — ratchet up the defensive intensity.
‘”I thought we started off a little sluggish, so we put them in a press ... and our guys responded. They picked the pace up, picked the tempo up, and it worked to our advantage,” assessed Steelers’ skipper Roland Shannonhouse.
Roundup: SR girls beat Sharpsville; Greenville wins region opener
ä Slippery Rock 43, Sharpsville 36 — At Sharpsville, the visiting Rockets roared to a 15-2 first-quarter lead, then had to weather the Blue Devils’ rally in the inter-region affair.
Six-foot post Nicole Papley pumped in 13 points for Slippery Rock (2-1), while Eugena Davies drilled 11 and Emily Anderson added 10 for Sharpsville (1-3).
Roundup: Hickory rolls past Sharon; WM boys beat Strong Vincent
Hickory High Head Coach Jeanette Whitehead had a unique problem Saturday afternoon: Trying to find flaws with her Lady Hornets’ 64-25 humbling of Sharon.
“Hickory’s going to take it one game at a time, and hope to improve in each practice and each game. We’re trying to get that balance ... just trying to tweak,” Whitehead summarized.
SPORTVIEW: Higher draft picks are rewards for Steelers, Browns
EVERYONE knows that’s it’s hard to win a football game in New England. One reason is quarterback Tom Brady.
And now apparently after the Patriots late-game rally over the Cleveland Browns last Sunday, there’s another major reason — the referees!
While I rarely like to blame refs — because I’ve always believed that you should never put yourself in a position where the zebras can determine the outcome of a game — there were two calls that greatly assisted the Pats.
Roundup: Farrell edges Hickory at 'The Hive,' 67-62
The late, legendary coach Jim Valvano coined the term “Survive and Advance” as his 1983 North Carolina State basketball team won the NCAA championship.
Without being too melodramatic, survive and advance may be the key to success in District 10 Region 5-AAA in 2013-14.
Farrell High boys basketball team did not shoot particularly well and made almost many turnovers as it committed; however the Steelers survived host Hickory, 67-62, Friday night at The Hive in Hermitage.
Roundup: GC girls edge Sharpsville; Hickory, Mercer win
ä Grove City 40, Sharpsville 37 — At the Devils’ Den in Sharpsville, the visiting Lady Eagles escaped with their record remaining unscathed; however it was not until the final 2.6 ticks to play.
With Sharpsville on the short end of a 38-37 margin, Grove City committed the last of its 7 second-half turnovers with 27 seconds left.
LOCAL COLLEGE SPORTS: Thiel's Schafer picked for NCAA Pathway Program
Thiel College assistant director of athletics and senior woman administrator Amy Schafer was one of just 12 individuals recently selected for the NCAA 2014 Pathway Program.
The Pathway Program exists to assist minority and/or female administrators who wish to become director of athletics as their next career step through education, training and mentoring. The program is designed to provide national exposure to its participants and to generate the opportunity to glean information and career guidance from the leadership of intercollegiate athletics administrators throughout the country.
Reynolds 20-year home mat streak halted
They say that all good things must end. Even winning streaks of local powerhouse Reynolds High wrestling team!
The Raiders of coach Casey Taylor dropped a tough 30-25 decision to Erie McDowell Tuesday night at Reynolds, the first home loss for the Raiders since 1993.
The Class AAA Trojans (2-0) last year rallied from a large deficit to beat Class AA Reynolds in Erie, 38-33. On Tuesday, the northerners also rallied from a 25-21 deficit in the final two matches to halt the streak.
Roundup: Sharon rallies to beat WM, 72-56
When West Middlesex High’s wonderful 2013 Final Four run ended last March 22, it was at Sharon’s Tiger gymnasium. And while Tuesday night’s circumstances were considerably less dramatic, they ended similarly.
The Big Reds built a 20-8 first-quarter bulge. Ultimately, however, West Middlesex made 27 miscues, resulting in a 72-56 District 10 inter-region setback at Sharon.
Roundup: WM girls beat UC; Sharpsville, KC fall
ä West Middlesex 52, Union City 27 — At Union City, coach Mike Williams’ Region 1-A Ms. Reds improved to 2-1 with a win over the Lady Bears of Region 4-AA.
Alyson Pierce scored 15 to lead WM, Noelle Murray registered 13 points and Allie Staunch bucketed 10 markers.
Hickory falls to Lions in PIAA Class AA western region final
SLIPPERY ROCK — Brett Brumbaugh brought Bill Brest back to reality.
Brest seemed, Saturday afternoon, momentarily lost in thought when a post-game question was posed. Perhaps it was because it had been 3 months since he had experienced the disappointment of defeat.
Brumbaugh-led South Fayette’s football team short-circuited a splendid season a step shy of the statewide stage for Brest and Hickory High with a 23-20 win over the Hornets in the PIAA Class AA western regional championship game.
SPORTVIEW: Browns, Steelers will both lose
THE CLEVELAND Browns quarterback position has been a revolving door this season, but at least one of the more successful signal-callers is back. Jason Campbell is recovered from a concussion and will start.
Does it really matter?
Roundup: Opening-weekend tipoff tourneys conclude
Kittanning Tipoff Championship
ä Hickory 60, Kittanning 32 — Coach Jeannette Whitehead’s Lady Hornets had an impressive weekend in winning the opening tourney of the season.
“It’s nice to get out of the game with a win,” said Whitehead. “The kids were anxious to get going.”
2013-14 hoops season begins with tipoff tourneys
Farrell Julius McCoy Tipoff Tourney
ä Kennedy Catholic 48, Imani Christian Academy 40 — The Golden Eagles set up an all local rematch with host Farrell by pulling away in the fourth quarter in a tight battle.
For KC, Gerald Zachar and Sam Crow each scored 13 points to pace the victory, Brown had 14 and Southerner 12 for Imani.
Brookfield boys win season-opener against Py Valley
It was a typical season-opener: Too many turnovers, some questionable shot selection, and careless personal fouls. But for Brookfield High boys’ bench boss Bill Kovach, “ ... always happy with a win.”
The Warriors were 7-for-10 from the free-throw line during the 4th frame, and held off Pymatuning Valley, 59-48, Tuesday night.
- More Sports Headlines
- Roundup: Farrell rolls past SR; Hickory edges Meadville at 'House of Thrills'