SHEFFIELD VILLAGE - With a large crowd on hand to celebrate the school's Homecoming festivities Friday night, Brookside wanted to get the fans into the game right away.
The Cardinals' Giovanni Taw recovered the opening kickoff, then recovered a fumble on Oberlin's first play from scrimmage. Both turnovers set up quick touchdowns, and the Cardinals were off to the races in what turned out to be a 36-19 Patriot Athletic Conference crossover win over the Phoenix.
Taw fell on the ball at the Oberlin 24 following a pooch kickoff. Two plays later, sophomore Arin Pruitt - on his first carry - went in from 20 yards out to give the Cardinals
(3-1, 1-0) a 6-0 lead just 43 seconds into the game.
"It was important for our kids, since it's been seven years since we won our Homecoming game," Brookside coach Thom Lesiecki said. "It was important to them and our kids came out ready to play. It was much improved from our loss to Margaretta (last week). We did a real nice job here tonight.
"We did a nice job causing those turnovers and we did a nice job on their passing game. I thought they controlled the line of scrimmage on us upfront with their run game. We bent, but we didn't give in. We made them work for those 19 points."
It only took one play before Oberlin (2-2, 0-1) gave the ball right back to Taw and his Cardinals, when quarterback DaShaun Horton was hit at the line of scrimmage, giving Brookside possession at the Oberlin 48.
"You see the ball on the ground and you know you have to get it," said Taw, who added another fumble recovery later in the game. "We were making it happen and creating our own opportunities. If the other team makes a mistake, we've got to capitalize on it.
"This was a tough game, and we've got to keep coming out at people and show people that we're gonna contend."
Brookside forced six Oberlin fumbles and recovered four of them. The Cardinals added an interception by Josh Zenkert for a total of five Phoenix turnovers.
Pruitt used the momentum of his first touchdown to lead all rushers with 108 yards on 18 carries. His day was bookended by touchdowns - he scored from 7 yards out with 2:44 remaining in the game to thwart what was starting to look like an Oberlin comeback.
"We started off on the ground really good and picked it up toward the end," Pruitt said. "Me and Keyonte (Francis) are the dual threat. We always high-five each other in practice and we complement each other well in the backfield. We both work well together. Without each other, we know we're not going to succeed."
Francis, a senior, added 72 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown from 17 yards out. Drew added a quarterback sneak in the second quarter to give the Cards four rushing touchdowns.
"We shot ourselves in the foot tonight," Oberlin coach Fred Howery said. "(Brookside's) a good ball team. But we made a lot of young mistakes in not taking care of the ball, and we've got to get our young guys on the same page as our older kids."
BELLMAN ANSWERS: Brookside sophomore Brandon Bellman made a 43-yard field goal. According to many in the press box, the field goal is believed to be the longest ever converted in school history.
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org