Brookfield rebounds from SWC loss with Thanksgiving drubbing of Bethel
The Bobcats rebounded from last week's loss in the South-West Conference title game with a 27-6 defeat of Bethel in the annual Thanksgiving Day meeting at Brookfield High.
Brookfield (10-1) next plays as the No. 2 seed in the Class M state tournament. Bethel ends its season at 5-5.
"We definitely needed this to know we're ready," Brookfield coach Rich Angarano said. "We knew that Bethel was a strong defensive team and we knew we had to play a good football game and we knew we had to come back after a pretty good beating that we took. Bottom line is Pomperaug came to win a championship the night that they played us and they delivered. I was curious to how we were going to respond ... and this team came back big. We're ready to move on."
The Bobcats were coming off a humbling 32-0 loss to Pomperaug, a defeat where they combined for less than 100 yards of total offense.
Thursday, however, Brookfield totaled 351 rushing yards and three backs ran for more than 60 yards. Junior running back Scott Lutrus led the rushing attack with 175 yards on 11 carries, highlighted with a 36-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
"That's back to Brookfield football," Angarano said. "That makes me feel good."
Fullback John Hayduk and running back Ben Russell totaled 67 and 61 rushing yards, respectively, while quarterback Lenny Meldon ran for 48 yards. Russell capped off the Brookfield offense with a 28-yard touchdown run, breaking three tackles on the way, late in the fourth quarter.
While the Bobcats re-established their running game, their defense also bounced back.
After giving up a game-tying touchdown late in the first quarter, the Brookfield defense tightened up the rest of the game and didn't allow a score the final three quarters.
One of the most significant stops came at the beginning of the third quarter. Trailing 14-6, Bethel marched the ball from its own 48 all the way to Brookfield's 11 before turning it over on downs.
In return, the Bobcats went 89 yards on the ensuing drive to take a 20-6 lead. Lutrus had two runs of 17 yards and capped off the drive with his 36-yard scoring run.
"Our defense is a tribute to our offense; our defense is a tribute to our special teams," Angarano said. "Our offense and our special teams have complemented our special teams all year long, and again we did that today."
Part of the reason for the shutout, however, was Bethel's offense imploding.
Quarterback Vincent Cosentino threw interceptions on consecutive drives in the second quarter and turned the ball over to start the fourth quarter.
"We turned it over a lot, and I think that certainly was the difference in the football game," Bethel coach Gus Lindine said. "We had a couple of things that we thought would work for us, but they came up with the big plays."
One of the more critical turnovers came at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Trailing 20-6 on its own 34, Bethel drove the ball to Brookfield's 21. But on first-and-10 at the 21, Cosentino tried pitching the ball to Anthony Kostek in the backfield. Kostek, however, was not there to receive the ball, and Brookfield senior lineman Ryan Pacific recovered the ball.
Twice the Wildcats sustained drives of eight plays or more, but they came up empty both times.
Initially, both teams played evenly. After Brookfield went up 6-0 on its second drive, Bethel answered with its own touchdown on its next drive, capped off by Cosentino's 46-yard pass touchdown pass to Sean Camilli .
"We did answer the bell with a big score, but when we let them back with a huge kick return, that kind of negated the touchdown," Lindine said.
Chase Treibt took the ensuing kick off from his own 15 all the way to the Bethel 20. While Russell fumbled the ball two plays later, Cosentino threw his first of two interceptions on the next drive. The Wildcats paid for their mistake, as the turnover eventually led to a Brookfield touchdown and a lead it never relinquished.