SOLON — The Brunswick and Solon football teams put on a show in a Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division thriller Friday.
The game featured big plays, big misses, big stars, stats galore and lots of surprises as Solon eventually pulled out a heart-stopping 44-41 win at Stewart Field.
All the news wasn’t bad for Brunswick, however, as several upsets in Division I, Region 1 appear to have allowed the Blue Devils to grab a spot in the playoffs.
With all the offensive firepower on display, the game came down to the right foot of Solon kicker David Sebuke.
The sophomore got his chance to be the hero with 3 seconds left and came through big time. His 32-yard field goal attempt split the uprights as the clock hit triple zeros to send the Comets (6-4, 3-2) into the playoffs.
How the game made it to this point was equal parts bizarre, thrilling and down-right headshaking.
After Antwain Hamilton (18 carries, 151 yards; 2 receptions, 66 yards) scored his fourth touchdown of the night on a 51-yard screen play with 10:29 left in the third quarter, things got wacky.
Brunswick (6-4, 2-3) trailed 28-14 and Solon appeared to be ready to pull away.
“Early on we thought Solon outplayed us,” Brunswick coach Luke Beal said. “We actually felt fortunate going into halftime just to be down (21-14). We didn’t feel like we played real well in the first half, and they kind of had us on our heels. I was really proud of the way the kids played in the second half. We just made play after play.”
The Blue Devils bounced back immediately on an 80-yard drive, highlighted by a 51-yard highlight-reel run by Richie Norman (16 carries, 189 yards, TD) where he made a fantastic cut in the middle of the line and raced to the Solon 17-yard line.
Steven Ficyk (16-for-25 passing, 260 yards, 3 TDs) then hit Zach Parker (3 receptions, 84 yards, 2 TDs) on a jump ball in the back corner of the end zone for another TD, putting Brunswick right back in the mix.
Solon’s next possession took just two plays, covered 67 yards in 43 seconds and ended on a 40-yard pass from Matt Laubscher (11-for-16 passing, 237 yards, 3 TDs) to speed demon Kellyn Crenshaw (9 receptions, 197 yards, 2 TDs).
“We thought for sure that it was going to be back and forth,” Solon coach James McQuaid said. “We’ve got a ton of respect for them and what they were going to be able to do in this game.”
The Blue Devils answered again.
Ficyk threw a beautiful pass to offensive newcomer David Kelty, who tip-toed the sideline for a 37-yard touchdown.
Kelty, primarily known for his play as a starting safety, had a breakout game on offense with 17 carries for 96 yards, five receptions for 75 yards and three total touchdowns while lining up at quarterback and wide receiver.
“We’ve worked him in offensively a little bit at a time,” Beal said. “David has really stepped up the last two or three weeks as a leader and a playmaker. We were treating tonight like a playoff game, and we wanted to get our playmakers on the field.”
Trailing 35-28 late in the third quarter, Brunswick needed desperately for its defense to make a big play.
Defensive lineman Justin Boey had just what the doctor ordered when he came free off the edge and lit up Ryan Gallagher, who alternated with Laubscher at quarterback, and forced a fumble that Alex Barty pounced on at the Solon 30.
After a 7-yard run by Norman, Kelty lined up at quarterback and ran four straight plays, capping the drive with a 5-yard run to knot the score at 35 with 10:34 to play.
The Brunswick defense stepped up again on the ensuing Solon drive, when Elliot Laisure sacked Laubscher on fourth-and-4 at the Blue Devils 40.
Norman made his second monster play of the night, running 43 yards on Brunswick’s first play down to the Comets 17. The drive eventually broke down at the Solon 2-yard line and Alex Sabetta’s 19-yard field goal went wide right.
Crenshaw temporarily gave Solon the lead again, hauling in a 69-yard catch-and-run from Laubscher. Sebuke’s extra point attempt was blocked with 1:41 left and Brunswick still had life.
“We just kept our heads up,” Crenshaw said. “Coach tells us every week in practice that there is always enough time with our hurry-up offense to get into field goal position.”
Norman struck again on Brunswick’s ensuing possession. The senior made his coach look like a genius when a simple draw play turned into a 60-yard touchdown run with 57 seconds left.
“He always gives you that big-play potential,” Beal said of Norman.
A bad snap on the extra point left the score even at 41.
All signs pointed to overtime. Unfortunately for Brunswick, Hamilton didn’t read them. The senior burst up the sideline for a 37-yard run on the first play, giving Solon a first down at the Brunswick 31.
“That was the best run I’ve ever had,” Hamilton said. “I loved it. I just don’t know what to say.”
With the ball deep in Brunswick territory and the next Laubscher pass nearly intercepted by Parker, Solon began position the ball for Sebuke’s game-winning kick. Crenshaw had another big catch with a 15-yard scamper on a bubble-screen down to the 16 and the stage was set.
“Antwain Hamilton and Kollyn Crenshaw have been making plays for us all year,” McQuaid said. “Our defense has been in charge all season, but our offense had to pick them up tonight.”
Sebuke nailed the kick and assured his team a spot in the playoffs.
Contact Chad Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Solon 44, Brunswick 41
BRUNSWICK 7 7 14 13 — 41
SOLON 7 14 14 9 — 44
B — David Kelty 26 run (Alex Sabetta kick), 6:38.
S — Antwain Hamilton 15 run (David Sebuke kick), 5:35.
S — Hamilton 48 run (Sebuke kick), 10:29.
S — Hamilton 1 run (Sebuke kick), 8:07.
B — Zach Parker 64 pass from Steven Ficyk (Sabetta kick), 3:17.
S — Hamilton 51 pass from Matt Laubscher (Sebuke kick), 10:32.
B — Parker 15 pass from Ficyk (Sabetta kick), 8:31.
S — Kellyn Crenshaw 40 pass from Laubscher (Sebuke kick), 7:48.
B — Kelty 37 pass from Ficyk (Sabetta kick), 5:54.
B — Kelty 5 run (Sabetta kick), 10:34.
S — Crenshaw 69 pass from Laubscher (kick blocked), 1:41.
B — Richie Norman 60 run (run failed), 0:57.
S — Sebuke 32 field goal, 0:00.