MEDINA — Nick Roberts knew what it felt like to beat Medina, but he was that rare Brunswick football player who was on the varsity as a freshman.
The rest of the current Blue Devils finally experienced something Friday that many of the players who came before them almost started taking for granted, as Brunswick beat the Bees 21-0 in Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division action to end a rare two-game losing streak against its Medina County rival.
Brunswick improved to 7-3, 3-2, but according to joeeitel.com will fail to qualify for the Division I, Region 2 playoffs when first-round pairings are announced Sunday. Medina, which was trying to beat the Blue Devils three times in a row for the first time since 1972-74, finished 2-8, 1-4. The Bees will move into the NOC River Division next year, but the schools will meet in Week 1 in non-league action.
“It was big for us,” Brunswick defensive back Alex Pekar said of beating Medina. “All the seniors were sophomores when we first loss to them, so we had something to prove. We came back with a vengeance.”
The game was not the slightest bit pretty — the Blue Devils had 161 yards total offense and the Bees had a grand total of 43 — but Brunswick made the big plays when it had to.
The biggest came late in the first half with the Blue Devils up 14-0. Having thrown three straight incomplete passes after a high snap on a Blue Devils punt gave them possession at the Brunswick 20, the Bees lined up for a 37-yard field goal attempt by Nick Bavaro.
With heavy pressure coming off the right edge of the Brunswick defense, Bavaro’s kick was a very low line drive. Whether it was blocked or hit one of Bavaro’s linemen could not be determined, but the ball wound up in the hands of Pekar, who raced 78 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown with 16 seconds left in the first half.
“They shanked it and it bounced right into my hands,” Pekar said. “I wasn’t sure if it was legal or not, but Brad (Darlington), our linebacker, yelled, ‘Run!’ so I ran. The whole time, I felt like someone was right behind me.”
The play was indeed legal, and instead of going into the locker room up 14-3, the Blue Devils held a commanding 21-0 lead against a Medina team that had just 22 yards total offense.
“It was a big play,” Pekar said. “It was a momentum-changer. Our coaches said to go straight for the jugular.”
Brunswick only had 98 yards at that point, but it didn’t need to do a whole lot because Medina quarterback Dillon Wiesler lost three first-half fumbles and the Bees picked up a personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Blue Devils’ first scoring drive.
“We had three turnovers and 30 yards in penalties (actually 23 because one was half-the-distance to the goal) on one drive,” Medina coach Dan Sutherland said. “We weren’t disciplined, they capitalized and we didn’t respond.”
Due to a series of shotgun snaps that were either way over Weisler’s head, off to the left or right or simply dropped by the quarterback, the gutsy senior accumulated 92 yards in losses on eight of his rushes. He gained 60 on his other eight totes, giving him 16 carries for minus-32 yards on the night.
Wiesler’s fumbles, however, were much more costly.
The first came one play after Medina successfully stopped a fake punt and took over at the Brunswick 38. Getting the ball right back at their own 37, the Blue Devils needed eight plays and two Bees penalties for Keith Yohman (6 carries, 51 yards) to go 8 yards around right end for a 6-0 lead.
Wiesler’s next fumble gave the Blue Devils possession at midfield, and seven plays later four-year veteran Roberts (22 carries, 76 yards) went in from 8 yards out. A two-point conversion run by Danny Stepp made it 14-0 at the end of the first period.
“Our inability to catch the snap from center or make the snap from center was huge,” Sutherland said. “That was the whole first half.”
Medina got an interception from Graham Nielsen and solid defensive play from the likes of Matt Whittaker, Kenny Wilder and Brent Lary — Blue Devils quarterback Dan Yohman was 3-for-16 passing for 26 yards — but the Bees never did get anything going against a Brunswick “D” led by Darlington and Garrick Koermer.
Medina rushed 35 times for 12 yards, while Wiesler, who started because of his potential big-play ability and Collin Minor’s concussion, finished 6-for-17 for 31 yards.
In addition to 11 incompletions, 12 of Medina’s 52 plays went for negative yardage. Six others went for zero yards or 1 yard, with only one pass and two Wiesler rushes going for more than 10.
“We keep building,” first-year coach Sutherland said. “This offseason is going to be real tough on these kids. We’re going to work them hard and stay the course.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brunswick 21, Medina 0
BRUNSWICK 14 7 0 0 — 21
MEDINA 0 0 0 0 — 0
B — Keith Yohman 8 run (kick blocked), 4:44.
B — Nick Roberts 8 run (Danny Stepp run), :00.
B — Alex Pekar 78 return of blocked field goal (Triston Wasil kick), :16.