LYNDHURST The Kenston football team went back to its roots in the second half as the Bombers ground out a victory over Brush, 31-27, on Friday night at Korb Field at Brush High School.
Kenston’s Austin Zachem scored a 1-yard touchdown on a quarterback sneak with 4:46 left in the game to give the Bombers the lead.
The Arcs got the ball back and went three-and-out. Kenston followed with eight running plays that took 3:13 off the clock along with using all of Brush’s time outs. By the time the Arcs got its final chance to score, there was just 43 seconds left in the game and Brush had the ball on its own 10. The Bombers’ Darryl Richards intercepted a pass from Isiah Wilson of Brush to end the game.
The victory marked the first of Kenston coach Pete Thompson’s career.
When asked how it felt to earn his first win, Thompson said: “If I could tell you. We got down 14-0 and to battle back and win is tremendous.”
Kenston is 1-2 while Brush slipped to 0-3.
For Brush coach Rob Atwood, it was another frustrating loss. It marks the second straight loss by seven points or less for the Arcs, who lost star defensive back and running back Kevin Houchins, a Louisville recruit, for the season with a knee injury. Brush has averaged 27.3 points per game thus far.
“We’ve been a couple plays away each week,” Atwood said. “I don’t think we executed as well in the second half.”
The Bombers trailed, 20-17, at halftime and were largely outplayed as the Arcs held a total yardage advantage of 247-93. But that changed quickly in the second half as Kenston drove 71 yards in 13 plays, all runs, and took 6:54 off the clock as Nick Lombardy had a 15-yard touchdown run to give the Bombers a 24-20 lead. Lombardy led Kenston with 127 yards rushing on 25 attempts.
“As we went into the half, we said they have a lot of guys going both ways and we don’t,” Thompson said. “We thought at the end of the second quarter, they were a little gassed. We challenged the offensive line and they responded. We emphasized smash mouth.”
It looked like the Arcs may have recovered after Wilson led a drive capped by his own 10-yard touchdown run with 10:00 left in the game to give Brush the lead back at 27-24, but the Bombers rallied.
Brush controlled the first half, particularly the first quarter. On the Arcs’ second possession, they drove 68 yards in 12 plays as Demetrius Holmes scored on a 1-yard run for a 7-0 lead. Holmes had a good game subbing in for the injured Patric Hannon and Houchins as he rushed 17 times for 78 yards. However, he gained only 8 yards in the second half.
The absence of Hannon and Houchins was magnified as a few more Arcs left the field during the game as Atwood had to dip deep into his bench.
“I told the backups, ‘You have to practice as hard as you can because you’re one play away from being a starter,’ ” Atwood said. “I think we did wear down.”
Kenston’s first play after the Brush touchdown was a fumble by Lombardy, which was recovered by the Arcs at the Kenston 33. It took just one play for Wilson to connect with Pharaoh Brown for a spectacular 33-yard touchdown as Brown reached up for a one-handed grab and a 14-0 lead. Brown caught four passes for 78 yards. He teamed up with Jalen Yancy (four catches, 67 yards) to form a dangerous duo for the Arcs.
Wilson also had a good first half as he completed 8 of 11 passes for 138 yards. In the second half, Wilson completed just 3 of 10 passes for 37 yards. He also rushed 15 times for 64 yards.
Kenston got into the game after a punt was partially blocked, giving the Bombers the ball at the Brush 38. It took them seven plays to match that distance with Michael Braun scoring on a 1-yard run to pull within 14-7. Braun rushed 16 times for 76 yards.
However, Brush drove right back down the field as Holmes scored again, this time on an 8-yard run. The extra point was blocked, but the Arcs led, 20-7, after their eight-play, 68-yard drive.
Next was one of the biggest plays of the game. Brush kicked off and it was a bit short. Richards came in to field the ball and it hit his foot. The ball bounced forward and right into the hands of Joey Tomcufcik. He quickly headed up field and broke threw a huge hole. Tomcufcik ended up outracing the Arcs into the end zone for a 78-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 6:19 left in the first half. That made the score, 20-14, Brush.
“That was a broken play,” Thompson said. “Joey is a scout team player, but he continues to make plays (in practice). We saw what he can do with the football. That was a momentum changing play.”
Atwood agreed with Thompson.
“That kick return was huge, definitely,” Atwood said.
Braun then intercepted Wilson and returned it 21 yards to the Brush 32. That set up Sky Zahner’s 29-yard field goal with 8 seconds left in the half to pull the Bombers within 20-17 and fully give them the momentum.
Kenston rushed 51 times overall for 264 yards as Zachem contributed 61 yards on 10 attempts. He threw just five passes and completed just one for 12 yards to Richards.
“It wasn’t anything special,” Atwood said. “They ran right at us and we couldn’t stop them. We missed a lot of tackles. Those kids played really hard. They were well prepared.”
Kenston starts Chagrin Valley Conference play as it hosts Wickliffe (2-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at Bomber Stadium. Brush will take on Valley Forge (0-3) at 7 p.m. Friday at Korb Field.
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