Bearcats earn first 5A-East victory

Brookland’s Joseph Wright tries to shake off Valley View defenders during Friday night’s game at Jordan’s Stadium. Wright scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter as the Bearcats defeated the Blazers 12-7.

BROOKLAND — Brookland’s defense stood tall from start to finish.

The Bearcats denied Valley View on all but one offensive possession to earn a 12-7 victory over the Blazers, claiming their first 5A-East conference win Friday night at Jordan’s Stadium.

Brookland (2-5, 1-3 conference) is in its first year of 5A-East membership. The Bearcats also earned their first victory over Valley View (4-3, 2-2) in their third all-time meeting with the Blazers.

“As a whole program, we were fired up and excited. I’m excited for the kids and our staff,” first-year Brookland head coach Eric Munoz said. “We work our tails off every week and we’ve been fighting for six or seven weeks now. I’m proud of our kids to get that win and get that good feeling again. I couldn’t be more proud of these kids.”

Defense was a big part of the story as the Bearcats stopped a five-game losing streak.

Brookland led 3-0 at halftime after stopping Valley View on three drives inside the Bearcats’ 30-yard line. Interceptions by Hunter Whittaker and JD Davis set up both Brookland scores in the fourth quarter.

And on Valley View’s final drive, Brookland held after the Blazers reached the 7-yard line in the final seconds. A penalty backed Valley View up to the 12 and the Bearcats dropped Jay Morman at the 17 on the next play, leaving only two seconds on the clock.

Zak Stracener’s final pass fell incomplete in the end zone and the Bearcats were able to celebrate.

“Hats off to our defense, they had three interceptions and put us in really good field position at times. We shut down a big-time offensive team,” Munoz said. “Hats off to our coaching staff and our players. They executed the plan to perfection and in the end, it helped us win the ballgame.”

Brookland scored the game’s first points after David York made an acrobatic catch on a 24-yard pass from Ethan Gallion. Ronaldo Garcia’s 36-yard field goal gave the Bearcats a 3-0 lead with 6:36 left in the second quarter.

Valley View used a blocked punt to set up Jeb Rapert’s 2-yard touchdown run with 8:25 left in the third quarter. Up 7-3, the Blazers blocked another punt, but Whittaker came up with an interception that put the Bearcats on the Valley View 44.

York made another key catch, a 19-yard reception from Kolin Lamberson to set up fourth-and-2 from the Blazers’ 23. Joseph Wright broke free for a 23-yard touchdown run to give the Bearcats a 9-7 lead with 10:51 left in the game. The extra point was blocked.

The Blazers drove to the Brookland 20, but Davis’ interception and return put Brookland on the Valley View 31. That set up Garcia’s 43-yard field goal with 4:34 to play.

Wright finished with 59 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Kaden Matthews added 56 yards on seven carries for Brookland.

Lance Cupples also had an interception for the Bearcats.

“We really thought that number one, we have to stop the run, but we can’t get beat deep,” Munoz said. “There’s a fine line between those two things, but for the most part we did a good job of stopping the run, and no big plays either.”