BREWSTER – Cue the defense.
Timely stops lead to championships, and Brewster came up with a string of them Saturday in a 35-13 win over Walter Panas in a Class A play-in game.
In fact, the Bears only had one bad series.
Brandon Hodge connected with Erik Otero for a 48-yard score on the game’s first series, but the door slammed in a hurry.
“We had to have a good week of practice,” Brewster linebacker Jeremy Meissner said, mentioning a tense 27-22 win over the Panthers a week ago. “We had a difficult time on defense in that game, so we came in and talked about it and went out and stopped them.”
Simple as that.
The Bears (6-1) are hosting Yorktown at 7 p.m. on Friday in a Section 1 quarterfinal showdown.
“It was awesome to come back like that,” Brewster running back Jack Guida said. “We knew it was going to be a game with momentum swings. We lost it at some points, but we were able to take it back. Everyone on this team really trusts each other and it’s the best thing you can have.”
The defense forced three consecutive three-and-outs in the second quarter, and that changed everything.
A direct snap to Guida resulted in a 19 yard touchdown. Meissner rumbled 21 yards for another. Guida slipped in from 13 yards in the final seconds of the half and Kevin Heintz tacked on the extra point, making it 21-0.
The offensive line – Jake Hay, Evan Pfiel, Manny Costales, Connor Dignan and Jaden Milano – was punching holes in the Panas defense left and right.
“All of those guys did a great job today for us, they really did,” Bears coach Ed Mulvihill said. “Panas threw a couple of different fronts at us this week, blitzed from a couple of angles. We picked it all up.”
Player of the game: Meissner. The senior linebacker gets the nod because he led the defensive charge. Brewster did not give up a first down in the second quarter, forcing three punts that resulted in three forced three punts in the second quarter that led to a 21-7 lead at the intermission. Meissner also had 93 yards and two touchdowns on six carries.
Turning point: Meissner deflected a pass over the middle on third down, forcing the Panthers to punt with 4:40 to go in the second quarter. A short time later, he went 21 yards for a touchdown, giving the Bears a 14-7 lead.
Stat line: Brewster running back Jack Guida had another big week, picking up 161 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. … The Bears fumbled the ball away three times in the second half. … Joe DeLuca had 87 yards on 17 carries for Panas.
Quotable: “They’re a good team,” Meissner said of Yorktown. “They have (Nick) Santavicca. They have (Jose) Boyer. And they are both great runners, so we have to stop them and play defense just like we did tonight.”