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In a game that was everything it was cracked up to be, Brookville topped Forest 19-7.
In front of a huge crowd on a pleasant Saturday evening, three things were proven. First, Brookville is clearly entitled to that top ranking in the state that it's been lugging around.
Second, the Cavs, especially their defense, are for real.
Third, while Forest can hang with the elites, it must play flawlessly if it hopes to do more than just rake in the moral victories.
Following the game, the Cavs sit at 4-2 overall (2-1, Seminole), this most recent defeat coming at the hands of everyone's pick to win the state Division 3 crown.
The Bees struck first when Stacey Houston's 49-yard romp off an inside trap put the Bees on the Cav 6 yard line with a first down.
The Cavs limited the damage to a Dylan Tordoff field goal, after middle linebacker Tyler Rosser nailed Lorenzo Smith for no gain, Andrew Brown wrapped up Houston and Colby Rhodes broke up a pass attempt to Corby Weiss (despite giving up 10 inches in height to the towering wide receiver).
Brookville then added to that total after Forest, in punt formation at its own 39-yard line, saw the snap sail over punter Josh Storm's head. When the dust settled, the Bees were in business at the JF 16 yard line.
From there, quarterback Logan Thomas took threw himself at the Forest line four straight times, setting up a second-and-goal from the 2.
Thomas, operating from the shotgun, took the snap, faked the run and popped a quick pass to Weiss, who was cutting across the end zone.
Tordoff's PAT made it 10-0, Brookville.
On the ensuing possession, JF opened shop at their own 35. Desmond Goode picked up 8 yards on a run behind tackle Chris Peltier.
Fullback Rosser picked up the first down.
Goode followed that with two hard runs, the path cleared by Neil White.
Brandon Harrison leaped at least three feet to nab Hunter Hannell's sideline pass on the 31. Rhodes tacked on 7 with a nifty end-around.
Goode, again, was sprung by White to bring it to the 12.
From there, Hannell rolled to his left, and sliced a razor to Rosser, who rumbled the last three yards into the end zone.
Brookville wouldn't go quietly into that good halftime. With 1:22 remaining, the Bees took over at their own 25. Thomas found Smith for 18 yards on a crossing route. A roughing the passer call and another completion to Smith put the Bees inside the 10.
The JF defense remained stout. The Brown twins, Andrew and Jeff (just kidding--they're not related) forced Thomas to throw out of bounds. Then Teron Slaughter made an ankle tackle on Thomas, forcing the field goal attempt with a few seconds remaining.
The snap came, the Forest line surged and Jeff Brown came up with the block as time expired.
Suddenly, things looked promising for the Cavs, the 10-7 score standing as the homecoming activities kicked off intermission.
As it would play out, those 10 points were good enough for the Bees.
Forest had a shot at tying (or even going ahead) late in the third quarter, driving from their own 22 to the Brookville 22. Key to the drive was Rashad Hall's second effort in picking up a first down on a fourth-and-one from the JF 45. Wide receiver Mark Carter also coaxed a pass interference call on a fourth down, to keep the hopes burning.
Big Zack McCray crushed any Cav aspirations, however, when his sack of Hannell pushed Forest back from the 22 to the 31. Storm's 48-yard field goal attempt was just short and to the left. The nine yards lost to McCray would certainly have improved Storm's odds.
That was pretty much the last gasp for the Cavs. Thomas finally broke out, with a 57-yard dash off right tackle. To that point, the Cav defense had been shifting to the Bee strength, the side to which Thomas had been going.
This time, he went weak side, and the strategy paid off with a 17-7 lead.
Another error on the punting squad resulted in a safety, the two points providing the final scoring for the evening. With Storm punting from the end zone, the snap sailed over his head again.
The game's ending proved unorthodox. Despite the 12-point lead, the Bees tried to push in one final touchdown with 10 seconds left on the game clock. The Cav defense stopped Thomas short of the goal line on his run from the one-yard line.
While the vast majority of teams would opt to take a knee in that situation, the Brookville attempt to score points to the fact that this is one of the most heated rivalries around.
The Cav desire (and ability) to stop the attempt points to the fact that Forest wasn't ready to pack it in.
"We don't want to lose close games to good teams," said Forest Head Coach Don Rice. "We're as good as anybody."
A few less mistakes in this game, and the Cavs might have been the ones celebrating afterwards. Penalties and turnovers made the difference. "They weren't bonehead mistakes," observed Rice.
Bonehead or not, against a team of Brookville's caliber (and Amherst, for that matter), any mistake is costly.