Late field goal propels Trojans to upset win over Brookfield
As Weston coach Joe Lato wiped the tears off his cheeks with the bottom of his white undershirt, his Trojans paraded off their home field, hoisted their helmets high in the air and shouted "That's a top 10 team! That's a top 10 team!"
Well, it isn't anymore.
Weston defensive back Zach Cannon recovered a Brookfield fumble with 2:22 to play and drilled a 23-yard field goal in the waning seconds to propel the Trojans to a stunning 21-20 upset victory over the Bobcats on Saturday.
"For me, for our kids, where we came from, to get to the point where we can play with a team that was ranked (so high), I'm speechless right now," Lato said. "It hasn't sunk in yet."
The Trojans (2-0) forced seven Brookfield turnovers (six fumbles and an interception), but still trailed 20-18 when Cannon pounced on a botched snap at the Weston 46-yard-line late in the fourth quarter. A 19-yard pass play from Tyler Hassett to sophomore tailback Danny Rogers and a few Austin Delaney runs up the middle set the stage for Cannon -- admittedly a position player first and a kicker second -- to hit the potential game-winner with 7.1 seconds left. It was just the second field goal attempt of his varsity career.
"Oh, I was nervous," Cannon said with a laugh. "But I had my guys around me just telling me to do what I've been doing in practice. I had my family around me, so I tried to just let the muscle memory take over."
The ball sailed high over the crossbar and squeezed just inside the left upright, putting the Trojans up by one point and igniting a celebration for everyone on the Weston sidelines, including Cannon's father, who was visiting from Dallas for the weekend.
"My parents are divorced, so I don't see my dad much," Cannon said. "I'm happy he came to this one."
While Cannon played hero, he insisted that his field goal "wasn't what won us the game."
"It was everyone else, all the other things we did," he said.
Like, for example, recovering six -- yes, six -- Brookfield fumbles. The Bobcats, now 0-2 and essentially in a win-out situation if they want a third state playoff berth since 2008, coughed it up on their first three possessions and somehow held a 8-3 lead at the half. Brookfield senior Leaon Gordon was responsible for three lost fumbles, but he was also responsible for single-handedly keeping the Bobcats in the game. The electrifying tailback scored all three Brookfield touchdowns: the first on a 48-yard bomb from quarterback Boeing Brown; the second when he juked a few defenders, cut across the grain and raced 58 yards to the endzone; and the third -- his very next carry -- on a 64-yard dash up the right sideline.
The run gave Brookfield a 20-18 advantage and all the momentum, which it clung to until the ball slipped out of Brown's hands on a routine snap.
"It was funny, last night I was scouting a game and I was talking to one of my assistants and I said `I don't think we did enough turnover drills this week,'" Lato said. "It worked out I guess."
Ironically, the most controversial fumble of the game was committed by the Trojans. In the closing minute of the third quarter, Rogers took a direct snap and plunged into the endzone on a 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard-line The play, initially ruled a touchdown by a side judge, would have put Weston up 17-8. The referees briefly consulted, however, and decided that the ball popped out before Rogers crossed the plane and was recovered by the Bobcats.
It was the only bounce that went Brookfield's way.
"I take responsibility for this loss," said Brookfield coach Rich Angarano. "I'm the coach of this football team and seven turnovers are the result of poor coaching. Granted, I can't make a center-quarterback exchange and I can't hold onto the ball for them, but I have to teach them how to do that."
Gordon carried 13 times for 161 yards and two touchdowns while quarterback Boeing Brown completed 6-of-11 passes for 153 yards and the long touchdown strike.
For Weston, Rogers tallied 116 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in a game that Lato called "the biggest win" in his five years at the school.
"You preach mental toughness, and today (the kids) were tougher than me," Lato said. "Deep in my mind, I'm thinking `Here we go again.' They didn't believe it, and they stuck to it. I've never been more proud of a group of kids in my whole life."