Article obtained from The Gazette
To begin its season with three straight wins, the Brunswick football team had to overcome a big barrier: The Blue Devils had to halt Austintown Fitch’s 15-game regular-season winning streak.
Make Brunswick 3-0 after it coasted to a 41-27 non-conference victory Friday night at Falcon Stadium.
“Steve understands everything about what we try to do,” Brunswick coach Luke Beal said of the 6-foot-4, 215-pounder who directs a no-huddle offense out of the shotgun. “Fitch brings a lot of pressure. He was seeing what the defense was giving him and making plays.”
The victory between Division I, Region 1 teams should provide Brunswick with significant playoff computer points. The Blue Devils lost at home to Fitch 28-14 in last season’s third game. Brunswick went on to finish 6-5, including a first-round playoff loss to Mentor. The Falcons were 12-0 before losing a regional championship game to St. Edward.
Brunswick led 34-20 at halftime as Ficyk completed 10-of-15 passes for 250 yards. He threw touchdown passes to Mike Bekeny (40 yards) and Tyler Koch (65) and then two to Gary Clift (78 and 24).
Bekeny, who also rushed 17 times for 76 yards, circled out of the backfield to catch a Ficyk toss in the left flat at the 35 and turned inside to outrun the Falcons defense for a 7-0 lead.
Koch, lined up on the left, sprinted a few yards beyond the line of scrimmage to take a Ficyk laser in stride and wasn’t touched on the way to his long score that put Brunswick up 14-7.
Clift’s touchdown catches from Ficyk gave the Blue Devils leads of 21-13 and 34-20.
He ran a go route along the left sideline, where Ficyk found him open and spotted him perfectly near the Brunswick 45. No Falcon came close to catching Clift as he romped for his first touchdown. Clift ran an out pattern for his second score, catching Ficyk’s precise throw at the goal line near the left pylon.
Ethan Engelke also got into the end zone for Brunswick in the first half, plunging in on a 2-yard run. The Blue Devils slowed the pace after intermission, but built their lead to 41-20 on Ficyk’s 10-yard touchdown scamper that capped a 12-play, 78-yard drive with 4:28 left in the third quarter.
“Going into the game, we knew the quick stuff was there,” Ficyk said. “I’ve got to give the credit to our linemen and our receivers. Once the ball was in the receivers’ hands, they did all of the work.”
Brunswick’s playmakers were aided by the blocking of center Patrick Magalski, guards Tom Knuff and Mark Witthuhn and tackles Jordan Monyak and Tyler Gilcher. The Blue Devils piled up 331 offensive yards in the first half before finishing with 416. Had they not played smart situational football in the second half with their decisive lead, they surely could have surpassed the 500-yard mark as they did in previous wins over Medina (36-0) and Padua (49-21).
The Blue Devils’ 4-3 defense blanked Fitch in the second half until the final 74 seconds. The Falcons’ superb quarterback, Antwan Harris, completed 16-of-24 passes for 166 yards and ran for 168 yards on 20 carries. Brunswick, though, forced Fitch to punt the first three times it had the football in the second half.
“We knew they would get some yards and score some points, but we were able to contain them,” Beal said of Fitch, which outscored Warren Harding and Cardinal Newman (Ont.) by a combined 100-26 in its first two games.
“(Brunswick) totally outplayed us,” Falcons coach Phil Annarella added. “Our inexperience showed, but a lot of that was to their credit.”
Contact Mike Peticca at email@example.com.
Brunswick 41, Fitch 27
BRUNSWICK 14 20 7 0 — 41
FITCH 13 7 0 7 — 27