CHESHIRE >> Brookfield rallied with two late fourth-quarter touchdowns and stunned No. 1 Valley Regional/Old Lyme 20-13 in the Class M semifinals Saturday at Cheshire High’s Maclary Sports Complex.
Bobcats sophomore running back Robert Drysdale weaved into the end zone on a 4th-and-inches play from the 5-yard line for the winning score with 1:08 left to play.
Senior captain Brad Westmark then cemented Brookfield’s second straight come-from-behind victory by intercepting a long desperation pass from Warriors senior quarterback Phil Cohen.
Drysdale also scored the winning touchdown with 38 seconds left in the Bobcats’ 22-21 quarterfinal win against Bethel.
“We just made the plays,” said Westmark, who also plays quarterback. “We had a lot of adversity again. But our young guys stepped up and everything fell into place.”
No. 5 Brookfield (11-3) will meet No. 2 St. Joseph (12-2) for the Class M championship at Central Connecticut State on Saturday at 10:05 a.m. St. Joseph defeated No. 3 Barlow 62-34 in the other semifinal.
This was a heartbreaking loss for Valley, which captured the Pequot Conference championship for the second time in four years and was vying for its first trip to the state final.
The Warriors led 13-12 with a little over five minutes to play when Cohen hit senior David Peck with a perfect strike in the middle of the end zone on 4th-and-4 from the Brookfield 23. But Peck’s touchdown was negated by a holding penalty.
Cohen was sacked by Nick Seis on the next play and Brookfield’s game-winning drive began at its own 44.
“I think emotionally when the touchdown was called back, that let a lot of air out of our sails,” said Valley coach Tim King. “I could see it in their faces during the timeout. And I wasn’t anticipating getting sacked there.”
The Warriors (12-1) were without their leading rusher and tackler Justin Cheverier, who injured his shoulder in Valley’s 48-3 win against Quinebaug in the quarterfinals. Valley’s vaunted defense, which hadn’t allowed a touchdown in five straight games, suffered another blow when junior linebacker Dan Figuenick missed the second half with a knee injury.
“When Danny went out it killed us in the middle,” said King. “It’s very tough and frustrating. But my hat’s off to Brookfield. I’m not taking anything away from them. They made the plays and we didn’t.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Valley struck with 5:13 to go in the first half on a 13-yard touchdown run by senior Tyler Jaynes and Valley led 6-0 at intermission.
Brookfield tied it with a 10-play, 73-yard drive late in the third quarter. On 4th-and-7 from the Valley 35, Westmark scrambled to his right and lofted a pass to junior Gabe Pompette, who had slipped behind the Valley secondary, for the score. Warriors lineman Peter Barry blocked the extra-point kick to keep it tied at 6.
Valley answered on its next possession, going 61 yards on just five plays. Cohen found junior Chris Jean-Pierre with a 20-yard touchdown pass and Jared Roche’s kick gave the Warriors a 13-6 lead with 10:50 remaining.
Bobcats junior Dan Jackson’s 9-yard TD run capped a 72-yard scoring drive that cut Valley’s lead to 13-12 with 6:58 left in the fourth quarter. Brookfield tried to run in the two-point conversion, but the play was thwarted by Valley senior Cole Turner.
Brookfield outgained the Warriors 313-248.
Drysdale led all rushers with 87 yards on 13 carries. Westmark, who completed just 4 of 10 passes for 72 yards, made a huge third-down play on the winning drive, scrambling and evading tacklers before finding Austin Reich for 12 yards to the Valley 5.
“Brad kept it going and did an outstanding job keeping us alive and keeping the offense going,” said Brookfield coach Rich Angarano. “We beat an outstanding football team in Valley Regional. For us to score 20 points against them says a lot for us too. I’m very happy.”
Jean-Pierre led the Warriors with 55 yards on eight carries, while Cohen completed 10 of 18 passes for 105 yards and one touchdown.
“At the beginning of the season we thought we could have made it all the way. And in my heart, we made it all the way,” said Cohen. “We won the Pequot and no one can take that away from us. We had an undefeated season and that’s all you can really ask for.”
Brookfield 20, Valley Regional 13
Brookfield 0 0 6 14 — 20
Valley 0 6 0 7 — 13
V—Tyler Jaynes 13 run (Kick failed)
B—Gabe Pompette 35 run (Kick blocked)
V—Chris Jean-Pierre 20 pass from Phil Cohen (Jared Roche kick)
B—Daniel Jackson 9 run (Run failed)
B—Robert Drysdale 5 run (Drysdale run)
Team records: Valley Regional 12-1; Brookfield 11-3