Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune
Kobe Fields runs around a Brookside defender into the open field toward the end zone.
Ahead 14-7 at halftime, the Phoenix’ hopes of a win were crushed Friday by a lack of second half momentum.
That gave the Brookside Cardinals ample opportunity to stage a 28-14 comeback on the strength of their running game.
Cardinals running back Evan Brown-fugate ran for a 66-yard touchdown to tie the game at the end of the third quarter. Brookside picked a pass by Oberlin quarterback David Payne at the start of the fourth, leading to a six-yard run to the end zone.
“We’re going to be OK. We just need to make sure we get these guys organized and make them realize that after two games were obviously not happy where we’re at but we have a long season ahead of us,” Phoenix head coach Michael Law said of his team’s performance. “We need to make sure that we are pushing our kids and continuing to make them more mentally tough when adversity does come because it’s going to happen in football and in life.”
Brookside quarterback Dudley Taw III put his team on the board first with roughly five minutes left in the first quarter.
Oberlin replied with a Devin Yarber kickoff return to the Cards’ 40 yard line for great field position. Kobe Fields carried for 19 to move close to the red zone on a fourth down attempt.
The Phoenix continued to take fourth down risks, punting the ball away only twice the entire game. Elijah Bugg was the next to convert with a 16-yard run, setting up his four-yard run to make it 7-7.
The Oberlin defense took control, with Malik Aguiniga blocking a pass by Taw and adding a sack on fourth and three on the 37 yard line.
“They want to run the ball and pass second and when they were running the ball they were pretty effective. But we did a decent job early on,” said Law. “If we stop the run we feel pretty good about the position we’ll be in.”
Payne connected with Bugg for another 19 and the Oberlin running game found hole after hole in the Brookside defense.
Bugg scored Oberlin’s second TD off a 17-yard reception to give Oberlin a 14-7 lead with four minutes left in the second quarter.
The pace changed after halftime.
Law was excited his defense was able to stop Brookside’s running game and recover fumbles, but the offense simply wasn’t able to put those opportunities to use.
“It’s absolutely fantastic when our kids give effort and we get those opportunities but there’s a reason we go and play another snap after that,” Law said. “We have to be great, everybody on our team. It can’t be just a guy here and a guy here. It has to be everyone.”
A tired Oberlin defense led to the late Cardinals rally. Law chalked the 21-point comeback to his team’s fatigue as Brookside found ways to slice through the center for big gains.
The Phoenix will travel to Hardin Northern at 7 p.m. Friday to face the Polar Bears. The game is a two-hour ride from Oberlin to Dunkirk in Hardin County.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.