WELLSBURG - Brooke made several mistakes, and it cost the team a winning season and a possible spot in the state playoffs as the Bruins gave up a fourth quarter touchdown to Morgantown in a 27-20 loss on senior night at Brooke Memorial Stadium. With the defeat, the Bruins finished the season at 5-5.
Junior quarterback Alec Buchmelter threw three first half touchdowns, one of them for a 100-yard touchdown return. Then, the Bruins defense, which held the No. 7 ranked Mohigans to a mere 127 total yards, jumped off side on a crucial fourth down play by Morgantown, which led to the winning touchdown.
"This game was a microcosm of our season," said Brooke coach Tom Bruney. "It really was, but I was very impressed with the way our defense played tonight. Our defense played lights out and they have in the last six weeks."
Bruney laid it all on the line with senior Tim Faulkner, who has gained over 1,600 yards this season. Faulkner, who was the only ball carrier for the Bruins besides Buchmelter, ground out 137 yards last night with 28 carries. One of them was a 54-yard first quarter touchdown scamper.
"There were times tonight when I wanted the officials to blow a whistle so Timmy wouldn't get hurt," Bruney said of Faulkner's never give up running style.
"What heart he has played with all year. He has rushed for more than 1,600 yards, and I think half of them he got on his own."
Morgantown 27, Brooke 20
M 7 13 0 7 - 27
B 14 0 6 0 - 20
B: Mason Bates 55 pass from Alec Buchmelter (Austin Graham kick)
M: Shane Commodore 100 Int. return (Sabastian Morales kick)
B: Tim Faulkner 54 run (Graham kick)
M: Jalan Thomas 2 run (Morales kick)
M: Christian Allen 4 pass from Mark Johnson (kick failed)
B: Bates 8 pass from Buchmelter (pass failed)
M: J. Thomas 3 run (Morales kick)
RUSHING: Morgantown 34-93-2x (Jamie Thomas 9-49, Jalan Thomas 9-20-2x, Weidman 5-9, Prince 1-4, Minehart 2-(-4), Johnson 8-15); Brooke 38-185-1 (Faulkner 28-137-1, Buchmelter 10-48).
PASSING: Morgantown 5-9-27-1 (all by Johnson); Brooke 5-13-2x-3x (all by Buchmelter)
RECEIVING: Morgantown (Jalan Thomas 1-6, Minehart 2-12, Allen 1-4-1, Stewart 1-5); Brooke (Bates 2-63-2x, Mason 2-20, C. McAllister 1-11).
FIRST DOWNS: Morgantown 6; Brooke 10
PENALTIES-YARDS: Morgantown 3-15; Brooke 8-60
FUMBLES-LOST: Morgantown 2-2; Brooke 1-1
Faulkner's 54-yard touchdown run was typical. He took a handoff and crashed into the right side of the line. His legs kept churning, and it wasn't long before he squirted out of the scrum and raced untouched to the end zone to give the Bruins a 14-7 lead late in the first period.
Brooke got on the board with the first scrimmage play of the game when Buchmelter found senior Mason Bates wide open in the middle of the field at the Morgantown 30. Bates turned and raced to the end zone. Austin Graham's kick made it 7-0 with just 25 seconds gone off the game clock.
Things looked like they were going Brooke's way early when the Bruins recovered Mohigan quarterback, Mark Johnson's fumble at the Morgantown 20-yard line.
However on third down, Buchmelter's pass was intercepted at the goal line by junior Shane Commodore, who shook off a Brooke tackler and raced up the left sideline 100 yards to paydirt. Sabastian Morales was true with his kick to tie the game at 7-7.
After Faulkner's run got the lead back, the Bruins defense, which held the Mohigans to 93 yards rushing and only 27 through the air, forced a punt. On Brooke's third down play of the possession, Buchmelter was picked off again. This time it was Jalan Thomas, another Mohigan junior, that grabbed the ball at the Bruin 40 and went all the way to the seven before he was hauled down.
On fourth down from the two, the 222-pound Thomas plowed into the end zone. Morales tied the game at 14 with his boot that barely cleared the crossbar.
Morgantown took its first lead with 1:13 left in the first half when Johnson hit Christian Allen in the end zone with a scoring pass from four yards out. The kick failed, but the Mohigans went to the locker room with a 20-14 lead.
This Mohigan touchdown also was set up by an interception. Senior Brandon Harmon picked off Buchmelter at the Brooke 45 and returned it to the 39 to set up the short scoring drive.
"Those three interceptions hurt us," said Bruney. "Take them away and we're up 14-0 at the half."
The Bruins, however, dominated the third quarter. The Mohigans got the ball first at their own 29 and drove to their 44 where the Brooke defense forced a punt. The kick went out of bounds at the Bruin 35.
Brooke put together an impressive 18-play scoring drive that was culminated by a Buchmelter to Bates pass for the touchdown. Buchmelter rolled to his left and found Bates in the left corner of the end zone for their second scoring connection of the game.
"Brooke actually out played us tonight," said Mohigan head coach and Brooke graduate, John Bowers. "Give Brooke a lot of credit. The only place we were better than them was on the scoreboard.
"Give our kids a lot of credit, too, because they fought back, battled, persevered and won the game."
Bowers, whose team is used to playing on artificial turf, said: "Brooke has mudders and we don't."
"Hopefully, we'll get a high seed in the playoffs and hopefully we will play better than we did tonight," Bowers continued. "We went into the game eighth and we should end up seventh or possibly sixth."
His Mohigans finished the regular season with an 8-2 record losing only to two undefeated teams, Steubenville Big Red and Martinsburg.
While the Morgantown defense gave up 185 yards on the ground to Brooke, it was a fourth-and-one stop on a Faulkner plunge that gave them the ball in Brooke territory setting up the winning touchdown.
Faulkner and the Bruins had been pounding the center of the Mohigan defensive line all game so Bowers sent in his giant, Timothy Nuce. Nuce stands 6-3 and weighs 353 pounds. It was the big senior's only play of the game, but the Brooke offensive line couldn't budge him and Faulkner was held for no gain.
That gave the Mohigans the ball at the Brooke 48. Three running plays got Morgantown to Brooke's 42-yard line and faced with a fourth down and two to go for the first down, they called time out.
"One of the things we have struggled with since Aug. 1 was listening and paying attention to details," Bruney said about the situation. "They called that time out with fourth and two and I'm sure they called a 'no play' and we jumped off side. You can guess what the last thing our kids were told. We said it's fourth and two, they're going to try to draw you off side. And they did."
That gave Morgantown a first down on the Brooke 35 and on the first down play, sophomore Jamie (Chazzy) Thomas got loose for 28 of the 49 yards he gained in the game.
Thomas was dragged down at the Brooke 7 giving the Mohigans first down. He banged into the line for four more yards and Jalen Thomas bulled into the end zone on second down from there. Morales made good the on the kick giving Morgantown the 27-20 lead with 2:43 left in the game.
The Mohigans got another chance at a score as Kevin Minehart's squib kickoff hit a Brooke player and was recovered by Commodore at the Brooke 31. The Bruins defense held and forced a punt, but the offense couldn't do much in the final 1:31