GREENWICH — The tone was set early in Friday night’s football showdown between Brunswick School and Cheshire Academy in a rematch of last season’s Wayne Sanborn NEPSAC Championship Bowl.
And it was the visiting Cats that set the tone.
Scoring on its first three possessions, Cheshire Academy seized a 21-point lead and proceeded to record a 35-14 win over Brunswick before a huge, enthusiastic crowd at Cosby Field.
The Cats, who posted a 45-20 win over Brunswick’s in last season’s NEPSAC Wayne Sanborn Bowl, received two touchdown passes from junior quarterback Joshua Comune and a pair of rushing scores.
Senior quarterback Nick Henkel passed for 204 yards and threw for two touchdowns for the Bruins (1-1) in their home-opener.
“We had a very tough opponent and we got beat by a better team,” Bruins coach Jarrett Shine said. “We knew we had to play mistake-free football against a very good team and we made some plays, but we also hurt ourselves at times. We’ll bounce back from this and put it behind us.”
Cheshire Academy drove 75 yards in 10 plays en route to scoring the game’s first touchdown. Runs of 16 and 19 yards from junior Jared Martino and Comune, along with a 15-yard reception by junior receiver/running back Bryce Sebastian keyed the Cats’ scoring drive.
Sebastian’s 11-yard run around left end capped Cheshire’s drive with 7:28 remaining in the first quarter.
“He is an electric kid who has been a phenomenal player for us,” Cheshire Academy coach David Dykeman said of Sebastian. “He has been in our program for a few years and he has really shown the ability to change direction — putting his foot in the ground and getting vertical.”
After Brunswick went three-and-out on its opening possession, the Cats’ struck again, this time marching 50 yards in eight plays.
Senior wide receiver Chase Kinzly hauled in a Comune pass over a Bruins defender in the back of the end zone, putting Cheshire Academy ahead, 14-0, with 2:31 left in the first quarter.
The Bruins drove to the Cats’ 45-yard line on junior Kavonne Wilder’s 30-yard reception off Henkel’s pass. But on the next play, Kinzly intercepted Henkel’s pass, thwarting the drive.
“They had a great team last year and they’re good this year too, they played a great game,” said Henkel, who completed 14 of 25 passes.“When you look at the numbers, it’s almost the same score as last year, but we did move the ball this year. Unfortunately, we couldn’t punch it in.”
The visitors added to their advantage on their third drive, which was concluded by Sebastian’s 6-yard touchdown run off a sweep to the left with 10:36 still left in the first half. Following his blockers, Martino’s 31-yard run sparked the Cat’s scoring drive.
Brunswick drove from its own 25-yard line to Cheshire Academy’s 20-yard line midway through the second quarter, but a fumble recovered by linebacker Zachary Spencer stopped the scoring threat.
However, the Bruins cut into the Cats’ lead late in the second quarter. Henkel threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Cornelius Johnson, with 1:13 left in the second quarter. Johnson’s outstanding over the shoulder reception down the right sideline, followed by the successful point after attempt, made it 21-7, heading into halftime.
Brunswick senior linebacker Greyson Wolfram’s sack put Cheshire Academy in a third and long situation late in the third quarter. Yet the Cats responded, with Kinzly making a spectacular, leaping catch down the left sideline while being tightly defended. The play went for 33 yards, setting up Cheshire at the Bruins’ 22-yard line.
Five plays later, Comune connected with receiver Cristos Argys off play action for an 11-yard touchdown, putting the Cats on top, 28-7 at the 2:07 mark of the third quarter.
“Josh Comune stayed patient, stayed composed and made big throws when we needed them,” Dykeman said. “I don’t think we had any turnovers and that’s huge. Those are the type of things that win football games.”
Utilizing Sebastian’s speed, the Cats added another score in the fourth quarter. A 30-yard Sebastian run off a sweep to the left, followed by a 10-yard dash, put the ball on the 1-yard line. Comune snuck it into the end zone on the next play, putting the visitors ahead, 35-7 with 7:25 remaining.
“They are a physical team and were beating us inside up the middle, so we tried to make adjustments,” Shine said. “Then they used their speed to get outside of us. We didn’t give up though. We still had that fire, that spark and our crowd was great.”
Brunswick’s second touchdown of the night came by senior wideout Sean Amill, who got open and snared a 25-yard pass from Henkel with 5:19 left in the final quarter.
“We played hard and we gave it everything we had, but they have a good and are big, which is tough to compensate for,” Amill said. “Hats off to Cheshire, they had great schemes.”
Said Henkel: “I think hands down, we have the best receivers in our league. They have great defensive backs, but our receivers were getting open when we had time to throw.”
Up next for Brunswick is a home game against Kent School on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
“We just need to regroup, work on some stuff and come out aganst Kent next week and play hard again,” Amill said.
CHESHIRE ACADEMY 35, BRUNSWICK 14
CHESHIRE ACADEMY 14 7 7 7 — 35
BRUNSWICK 0 7 0 7 — 14
C — Bryce Sebastian 9 run
C — Joshua Comune 15 pass to Chase Kinzley
C — Sebastian 6 run
B — Cornelius Johnson 39 pass from Nick Henkel (Chris Chavez kick)
C — Comune 7 pass to Cristos Argys
C — Comune 1 run
B — Henkel 25 pass to Sean Amill (Chavez kick)