Luckily for Westlake, the outcome of most high school football games isn’t decided in the first quarter. For the most part, Friday night’s first quarter performance was one the Demons would most likely want to forget.
Until the last 18 seconds, that is.
To that point, the Demons had committed 10 penalties for 76 yards and trailed neighborhood rival Bay, 10-0, in the annual battle for the Little Brown Jug. But the momentum switched dramatically on a Phil Brusk to Kyle Perkins 60-yard touchdown pass play.
That was the beginning of a 34-0 run that gave Westlake a 34-24 win over the Rockets at a packed Lou Duchez Field.
“That first quarter was pretty horrific,” said Westlake head coach Mark Campo as his team evened its 2011 record at 1-1.
“We just weren’t composed, weren’t focused and weren’t disciplined,” Campo said. “We were buried in penalties, and then the punt we didn’t cover wasn’t good either. But if we could take the second and third quarter, bottle that, play that type of football and build off of that, we’d be alright.
“I’m very pleased with that,” he said.
Bay had built its early lead on a 7-yard touchdown run by Andy Barbour and a 37-yard field goal by Jack Creech. The field goal was made possible when Westlake bobbled away a Rocket punt at its own 13 yard line.
Then the Demons, coming off a rough second half in the opening night loss at North Ridgeville, were whistled for an illegal block on the ensuing kickoff. That backed them up to their own 7-yard line, but their fortunes were about to change.
Senior tailback Jonathan Brick opened up the drive with a sweep to the left for a 27-yard gain to the 34-yard line. Three more Demon penalties came during the drive, however, the third one for holding. That gave Westlake a second down and 26 yards to go from its own 39.
Brusk, a senior, took the snap and threw a tight spiral down the home sideline to Perkins, who made an over-the-shoulder catch and outraced the Rocket defense to the end zone. Alec Ferrell booted the conversion, and just like that the Demons were right back in the game, trailing only 10-7.
With the offense providing the game-changing play, the Demon defense began to shut down Bay’s passing attack. They held the Rockets to a three and out, giving Brusk and Company the ball back their own 27-yard line.
On second and seven from his own 41, Brusk went back, pumped and found Perkins again for a 59-yard bomb that gave Westlake the lead for good at 13-10. Bay continued to sputter on offense, and Westlake capitalized when Brick scored from seven yards out for a 20-10 advantage with 3:13 left in the first half.
“Phil played a great game,” Campo said. “I think he grew up tonight. He managed the game well and made some great throws. We tell him don’t make mistakes, and throw it only where our guy can catch it.
“He did a good job of reading the defense because he knew where the holes were in their coverages and he took advantage,” he said.
In the unofficial statistics, Brusk hit nine of 19 passes for 234 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Perkins had seven catches for 219 yards and the two touchdowns, while Brick ran the ball 18 times for 131 yards and a pair of touchdowns before cramping up after his second score.
“Kyle, obviously, made some big plays. He did a good job on the shorter passes with his yards after the catch. He didn’t stop where he caught the ball, he worked and got us additional yards after contact. Anytime you can do that, it’s a good thing.
“And Jonathan is just a gamer. He gets yards and makes plays, and our offensive line played well in front of him,” he added.
The Demons kept the momentum going on both sides of the ball in the third quarter. Brick scored on a 19-yard run, Ferrell made the conversion kick and it was 27-10 with 5:25 remaining in the quarter.
A quarterback sack by Daniel Misencik thwarted Bay’s next drive just 20 seconds later. Westlake took over at its own 30 and drove to the Bay 30-yard line in eight plays, including pass plays of 10 and 12 yards to Perkins.
The Brusk to Perkins combination struck again, hooking up on a 30-yard scoring strike that made it 34-10 with 1:48 left in the third.
Bay rallied in the game’s final minutes when backup quarterback Chris Brajdic hit Zack Baumgard and Ryan Voiers with touchdown passes, but it was too little, too late. With the loss, the Rockets fell to 0-2 on the season.