GREENWICH — A goal-line stand in the final seconds of play helped Brunswick School edge Erickson League football rival Taft School last week. Saturday, a 42-yard field goal attempt on the last play of the game determined the outcome of the Bruins’ showdown against Salisbury School.
Indeed, Brunswick’s last two games certainly haven’t lacked drama, which the Bruins don’t mind one bit.
Salisbury’s 42-yard field goal try with one second remaining had plenty of distance, but sailed wide left and Brunswick’s perfect season continued.
Junior Kevonne Wilder caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Nick Winegardner with 39 seconds left in the fourth quarter, giving Brunswick a thrilling 30-29 comeback win over Salisbury in a back-and-forth Erickson League game at Cosby Field.
“Once again, our team continued to fight and never they never gave up,” Bruins coach Jarrett Shine said. “The grit and determination they are showing is amazing to see.”
Cornelius Johnson, a senior All-American wide receiver, registered six receptions for 130 yards and three touchdowns for the Bruins, who trailed 14-0 in the first half. Running back Jalen Madison, a junior, totaled 134 rushing yards for the Bruins, who ran their record to 6-0 overall and 4-0 in Erickson League play.
The Crimson Knights (3-2, 2-2) were ignited by standout running back Rahsul Faison (142 yards rushing) and quarterback Bryce Faulstich.
Trailing 29-24 and facing a fourth down on the Salisbury 10-yard line, Winegardner rolled left and connected with Wilder for a touchdown with just 39 seconds left.
“We had a play and it was designed for me to go on a hitch route,” Wilder said. “I saw our QB scrambling, so the hitch wasn’t there, then he threw a good pass and I jumped and caught it. Once I caught that ball I was not going to let it go. That was my first reception of the year I think — to get it like that was amazing.”
Said Winegardner, who passed for 237 yards and four touchdowns: “The play broke down and I ran outside and I saw Kevonne pop open at the last second and I trusted he would make the reception, he’s an amazing player.”
The Bruins missed the two-point conversion following Wilder’s score, so the Crimson Knights were behind, 30-29.
With one second remaining on Salisbury’s ensuing possession, Faulstich completed a long pass to receiver Jack Hanau, who caught the pass in traffic, at the Brunswick 25-yard line. The reception set up Raleigh Wynot for the potential game-winning field goal, which was wide left as time expired.
“The way we came out and competed today — I’m proud of our team,” Salisbury coach Chris Phelps said.
The Bruins took their first lead of the game with 9:24 to go in the third quarter. On third-and-goal from Salisbury’s 7-yard line, Winegardner rolled right and threw a touchdown pass to an open Johnson. Christopher Chavez converted the extra point and Brunswick was in front, 17-14. Johnson’s 65-yard recepetion ignited the scoring drive.
“This is a huge win that keeps us on track for where we want to go,” Johnson said. “I’m thankful that I was able to make some plays and give us a spark.”
The Bruins’ 17-14 lead was short-lived, as Salisbury went back on top on a nifty shovel pass from Faulstich to Jairo Ramos, who dashed 46 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown, giving the visitors a 21-17 at the 4:36 mark of the third quarter. The visitors extended their lead to 23-17 when Winegardner was tackled in the end zone while retrieving a snap that was out of his reach with 10:08 left in the final quarter.
Winegardner’s 35-yard touchdown pass to Johnson gave the Bruins a 24-23 advantage with 6:49 still to go in the fourth quarter.
“When you are playing Brunswick you have to know where Johnson is,” Phelps said. “We tried to put different guys on him and provide extra help on him, but if he gets over the top on you he will make a play.”
Salisbury drove 63 yards in 10 plays for the game’s first score. Calling his own number, Faulstich capped the drive by scoring on a 1-yard sneak through the left side with 3:33 left in the first quarter.
The Crimson Knights methodically went 73 yards in eight plays on their next possession. Faison rushed for 45 yards during the scoring drive, which was concluded by his 14-yard run with 8:12 remaining in the second quarter, making it 14-0.
“He (Faison) was able to find the seams, even when all the gaps were covered, he found the seams,” Bruins senior linebacker Nick Villis said. “We had to make to make sure we rallied to the ball to keep him contained.”
Brunswick cut the Crimson Knights’ lead in half when Winegardner threw a 17-yard scoring strike to Johnson at the 3:47 mark of the second quarter. On the play, Winegardner scrambled and in the back of the end zone found Johnson, who kept his toes in bounds.
“Giving up that touchdown before halftime hurt us,” Phelps said. “Against a team with dynamic players like they have, you have to keep your drives going and you can’t give them the ball late in quarters like that.”
The visitors’ ensuing possession was halted at the Bruins’ 49-yard line with under one minute to go in the opening half and the home team quickly moved down the field to set up a Chavez 27-yard field goal, bringing Brunswick to within 14-10 at halftime.
Junior tight end Rocco DiChiara’s 42-yard reception, gave the Bruins the ball at the Salisbury 36 yard line and Madison’s 24-yard catch-and-run put it on the 12, giving Chavez a field goal opportunity.
Faison gained positive yardage on the ground throughout, but Villis, linebacker David MacGillivray and linemen Howard Powell and Ryan Mulshine made him earn a lot of his yards.
“Our defense was lights out,” Shine said. “We knew they were going to put points on board with some big plays. But we found ways to make big stops when we needed to.”
Villis and MacGillivray each recovered a fumble and lineman Justin Canelli registered a sack for the Bruins, who visit Avon Old Farms School on Saturday.
“Getting this win feels great,” Villis said. “The team is really energetic, now we have to keep it going during the week and prepare for Avon.”
BRUNSWICK 30, SALISBURY 29
SALISBURY 7 7 7 8 — 29
BRUNSWICK 0 10 7 13 — 30
- S — Rahsul Faison 1 run (Raleigh Wynot kick)
- S — Faison 14 run (Wynot kick)
- B — Cornelius Johnson 17 pass from Nick Winegardner (Christopher Chavez kick)
- B — Chavez 27 field goal
- B — Johnson 7 pass from Winegardner (Chavez kick)
- S — Jairo Ramos 46 pass from Bryce Faulstich (Wynot kick)
- S — Safety: Winegardner tackled in end zone
- B — Johnson 35 pass from Winegardner (Chavez kick)
- S — Faison 10 run (pass failed)
- B — Kevonne Wilder 10 pass from Winegardner (pass failed)