BROOKFIELD -- The New Fairfield football players knelt around coach Anthony Fata, who held a football to the heavens and recapped the hellacious weather they had to overcome before essentially bursting Brookfield's playoff bubble on its home field Friday night.
The 1-2 combo of a hurricane and a nor'easter had done a number on their lakeside town. The Rebels' senior running back, Joe Pacheco, seemed to take it out on the Bobcats.
The state's leading rusher was at it again Friday, burning the Bobcats for 211 yards and two long touchdowns in a 34-19 romp. His 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown late in the third quarter -- mere seconds after the Bobcats scored to cut their deficit to eight -- was breathtaking for one sideline and backbreaking for the other.
"That's a great running back, isn't it?" said Brookfield coach Rich Angarano. "He's everything that they say he is. I haven't seen all the runners in the state, but he's got to be one of the best. If not the best. ... He does things -- he can stop on a dime and go, and there's not too many people who can catch him."
The Bobcats led 7-0 late in the first quarter on a well-executed double pass on 4th and 19. Quarterback Brad Westmark fired the ball to Boeing Brown in the flat, and Brown, the Bobcats' former quarterback, found Liam Clancy alone behind the secondary for a 36-yard strike.
However, in a sign of gut-wrenching, quick-strike answers to come, Pacheco scored his first touchdown, a 52-yarder, less than a minute later.
Both teams moved to 5-3 on the season, their chances at a Class M playoff berth equally slim. But for Fata, whose defense pressured Westmark relentlessly, the performance was reason enough to dream big.
"I'm so proud of these guys for battling through everything," Fata said. "We battled through a nor'easter. We battled through a hurricane. Three days of practice, and here we are celebrating a nice victory. ... I just hope this keeps going."
Pacheco called the win especially sweet for settling old Pop Warner scores. Pounding away with the ground game, as they have through eight games, the Rebels got additional rushing touchdowns from fullback Nick Guardi (eight yards) and quarterback Mike McCourt (one yard).
"As the game went, every second, it's still a game," said Pacheco, who was featured at defensive end on several key snaps. "It's not over until the fourth quarter's over. We've been battling these kids since we were little kids. It seems (like it was easy) now, but during the game it was hard."
NEW FAIRFIELD 7 6 14 7 -- 34
BROOKFIELD 7 0 6 6 -- 19
Records: New Fairfield 5-3; Brookfield 5-3.
Scoring: B -- Liam Clancy 36 pass from Boeing Brown (Brown kick)
NF -- Joe Pacheco 52 run (Anthony Dagastino kick)
NF -- Nick Guardi 8 run (kick blocked)
NF -- Pacheco 66 run (Mike McCourt run)
B -- Brown 5 pass from Brad Westmark (kick blocked)
NF -- Pacheco 88 kickoff return (kick failed)
B -- Westmark 9 run (run failed)
NF -- McCourt 1 run (Dagastino kick)