GREENWICH — Jake Tuttle and Brody Grebe of Choate Rosemary Hall were on the run during their football team’s game against Brunswick School on Saturday.
Tuttle carried the load out of the backfield, rushing for 177 yards with one touchdown, while Grebe effectively ran the wildcat during the second half, reaching the end zone twice for the Wild Boars, who got the result they were seeking on the road.
The duo’s running efforts and a dominant defensive showing sparked Choate Rosemary Hall to an impressive 20-7 victory over Brunswick at Cosby Field in a rematch of the 2018 NEPSAC Class A Bowl game, won by the Wild Boars.
Choate improved to 3-1 with the non-conference victory.
The visitors compiled over 300 yards of offense, most of which came courtesy of their running attack.
“Jake did a great job of running the ball,” Choate Rosemary Hall coach LJ Spinnato said. “Our offensive line has had three injuries, so we’ve had a bunch of new guys. Today, they jelled and communicated well.”
The loss was the first for the Bruins, who were victorious their first three games of the season.
“That was a great football game against a great football team that came to town,” Bruins coach Mike Hannigan said. “Choate was really impressive.”
Brunswick’s defense hung in against the Wild Boars’ imposing offensive line, led by Tristan Bounds, Adam Danchak and Jan Kaufmann. The Bruins held a 7-3 halftime lead, thanks to senior defensive back Alexander Clarke’s interception return for a touchdown.
Choate took the lead for good at 10-7 with 4:35 remaining in the third quarter. Running the wildcat, Grebe took the snap from center and bulled his way through the line for a 2-yard touchdown, putting the visitors on top, 10-7. A fumble recovery by Gil Salzman gave the Wild Boars the ball on the Bruins’ 31-yard line, which set up 22-yard field goal by Charles Tait with 9:50 left in the fourth quarter.
Another 2-yard scoring run by Grebe put Brunswick in a 20-7 hole with 4:50 to go in the final quarter.
“I just wanted to go in and give the offense some energy,” said Grebe, a senior, who ran for 39 yards, while providing strong play on the defensive side of the ball. “We made it work in the end, you could tell they may have been getting a little tired.”
Following a first-quarter field goal by junior Charles Tait, Choate was in prime position to extend its lead, as it used the running of Tuttle to drive to the Bruins’ 11-yard line in the second quarter. On a 1st-down play from the 11, Clarke intercepted senior quarterback Shane Baldwin’s pass at the 4-yard line, cut and ran down the left sideline 96 yards for a touchdown. Kicker Chris Chavez added the extra point and Brunswick took a 7-3 lead with 59.3 seconds left in the second quarter.
“That was a huge play,” Hannigan said. “He (Clarke) made a nice drop, got underneath the route and took off, while his teammates went out and blocked for him.”
The Wild Boars’ next possession was halted at their own 44 yard line on a sack by senior linebacker Aengus Rosato. The Bruins’ ensuing possession was halted when a Bruins pass was intercepted by Choate defensive back Charlie Russo.
The visitors made their way into Bruins’ territory toward the end of the first half, but key plays by defensive back Alex Burdick and lineman Howard Powell stopped the drive at the 45 yard line.
“They were a physical team, they were big, hit hard and were blocking well,” said Burdick, a senior. “We met them with our physicality and we played at their level. A couple of plays here and there they broke, but overall, I’m proud of our defense.”
Lineman Dominic Young-Smith, Grehen (who had an interception), defensive back Damian Carrano and linebacker Nathan Puletaski helped anchor the Wild Boars’ defensive effort in this throw-back type matchup. Tuttle enabled the visitors to establish their running game early, pounding his way for positive yards in the first half. He carried the ball 10 times for 63 yards in the Wild Boars’ time-consuming opening possession, which ended with a field goal.
“The more touches, the better for me,” Tuttle said. “I like having the ball in my hands and making things happen. The line really stepped up today, it was awesome. We all came together as a team.”
Brunswick, which was held to less than 80 yards of total offense, couldn’t get its running game, led by seniors Jalen Madison and Kevonne Wilder, going. Senior quarterback Nick Winegardner of Brunswick was pressured throughout.
“I give credit to No. 99, their big nose tackle (Young-Smith),” Madison said. “He caused problems for us in the backfield. Give credit to their defense, they have some big, physical guys out there.”
The Bruins (3-1) will look to get back on the winning track Saturday against Erickson League rival Taft School in Watertown.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Tuttle powered Choate’s offense gaining tough yards in between the tackles, then occasionally breaking runs to the outside on sweep plays.
“No. 21 (Tuttle) is a special runner,” Hannigan said. “He is a super patient runner and No. 7 (Grebe) is a battering ram.”
“Those guys on Brunswick compete,” Spinnato said. “They play fast, they play confident and they have fun playing the game. We have been trying to create that with 20 new starters on the team this year. We were able to match their intensity and that helped us.”
MOMENT OF SILENCE
Prior to the game, a moment of silence was held to honor the memory of Ike Dolphan, a 16-year-old Brunswick student, who died of cancer this week. Hannigan wore a red shirt with the words, ‘Fight Cancer’, on it, as did many of the students attending the game.