BRUNSWICK — Think across history of major barriers that are difficult to cross — The Great Wall of China, the 38th parallel, the Berlin Wall.
None may have been as difficult to break as the red zone was for Brunswick’s football team Friday night.
Three times the Blue Devils stepped just inside the Cleveland Heights 20-yard line, and three times they came away empty-handed, losing fumbles each time in a 13-0 non-league loss.
“Turnovers like that are not just drive-killers, they’re game-killers,” Brunswick coach Mark Pinzone said. “We started to do some things on the ground there but we just couldn’t piece it together.”
Brunswick (0-2) was down 13-0 in the second quarter when it marched to the Cleveland Heights 17, but on the next play, the snap sailed over quarterback Josh Stacho’s head and the Tigers (1-1) recovered.
Stacho had a knee issue that was checked out at halftime, Pinzone said, and did not return. Sophomore backup Jacob Scherette played the entire second half, driving 46 yards to the Tigers 19. But running back Robert Woznicki was hit and fumbled on the next play to end the drive.
Two series later, Scherette drove the Devils from their 44 to the 18 before a bad snap led to a bobbled handoff. Cleveland Heights recovered.
“When we got near the red zone, we had some good drives going. We just couldn’t finish,” Scherette said. “We know they’re good, but we feel like we let this one get away.”
Defensively, the Blue Devils kept Cleveland Heights in check for all but two series — the first through little fault of their own. The Tigers got the first break when Brunswick went back to punt and the snap sailed over the head of Matthew James, who recovered and was tackled at the Devils 3.
Three plays later, Josh Harris snuck in from a yard out to open the scoring.
On its first series of the second quarter, Cleveland Heights went for it on fourth-and-9 from the Brunswick 49, with Josh Harris finding Sean Harris wide open on a deep post route for 40 yards. Two plays later, Justin Wodtly carried up the middle, shook off two Devils and rumbled into the end zone. Woznicki broke through the line to block the extra point, and Cleveland Heights led 13-0.
The Tigers’ scoring drives totaled 53 yards. The rest of the game, Cleveland Heights was held to 209.
“We did OK. We had one bad drive, but after that, we stuck together and stopped them,” junior defensive lineman Jeremiah Guzman said.
Pinzone said the defensive effort was good enough to give the team a chance to win.
“The defense played solid again, but we have to get better,” he said. “I’m anxious to see how they respond to this tough start.”
Scherette saw his first extensive varsity action after playing on the freshman team last year. He said he was excited and nervous — mostly excited — and felt ready to step up when called upon.
“I’ve worked to be prepared to be in these situations,” he said. “I felt like I was ready, taking everything that I learned from watching Stacho.”
“Jacob did pretty well, especially for a sophomore in that situation,” Pinzone said.
Woznicki carried 12 times for 51 yards to lead the offense, which totaled just 87 yards.
Senior Brandon Searight ran for 78 yards to lead Cleveland Heights.
Contact Chris Freeman at email@example.com.
Cleveland Heights 13, Brunswick 0
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS 7 6 0 0 — 13
BRUNSWICK 0 0 0 0 — 0
C — Josh Harris 1 run (Aginon Wilson kick), 4:37.
C — Justin Wodtly 9 run (kick blocked), 8:30.