Sports Buzz: A new day starts at night; Bears claw back to win 26-24

Quakers play Fox Lane this Friday, 6:30 p.m. @ Fox Lane
More photos inside
Monday, September 10, 2012
by Jim Nottingham

Opening their 2012 season, the G-men arrived at Brewster—with many new faces and missing some old familiar ones—full of hope. The Bears have a new turf field with lights so the Quakers’ new day started at night. It was a game that proved this year‘s team has the courage and determination to fight despite all the hurdles and obstacles placed in their way before they ever got a chance to take the field of play. They never quit before and they didn’t quit this night either.

        Jared Slater’s kickoff was returned 30 yards and Brewster’s offense chipped against the hard Greeley defense.  The Bears’ quarterback Brian McNeil capped a twelve play scoring drive with a one yard run. A subsequent two point conversion gave Brewster the lead, 8 – 0 at the 5:52 mark of the first quarter. His lead deflated the Quaker fans in the stands.

        However the air came back when on the ensuing Greeley possession, Teddy Graves took the first handoff of the season from junior Quarterback Brett Mester and bolted downfield for a fifty-two yard gain to the Bears’ 18 yard line. The season’s first play was an electrifying run. Quaker fans were pumped and ready for more. The offense stalled after runs by Michael Lefkowitz and Ori Herstik.  The effort wasn’t wasted as Slater came on and parted the goal posts with a 24 yard field goal to cut the Brewster lead by three, 8-3 at the 3:30 mark of the first quarter.

        The Bears’ next possession saw senior Derek Freyberg make a great defensive play on the first pay and an interception by Rob Gautney on the second. The G-Men “D” looked formidable. Greeley took over, but mirrored the Bears by giving the ball back to Brewster on an interception. Brewster and Greeley had one more possession each during the quarter, but neither team scored and the first quarter ended 8 – 3 with the Bears on top.

        Greeley began the 2nd quarter with the ball and were forced to punt, but a Brewster penalty gave the Quakers a first down and from that point they moved downfield with contributions by Graves and Herstik.  The G-Men got as far as the Bears four yard line, but were denied when they went for the touchdown on fourth down.

        Brewster took over on downs deep in their territory, but were able to move the ball up field, much to the agony of the Quaker faithful. Then Rob “The Robber” Gautney intercepted a McNeil pass and the Quakers had dodged the Bear claw.  Greeley gained a first down on a pass from Mester to Travis Friedlander, whose hard running took the ball to the Greeley 28. Three plays later Brian Hammerschlag, who handled his duty with distinction all evening long, had to come in to punt.  The Hammer put the Bears on their 27 yard line.

        The Bears could not advance and fumbled the snap that Greeley recovered on their 31 yard line. A pass from Graves to Hammerschlag put the ball on the Brewster 5. Graves ran in from the one and the G-Men led by one point 9-8 after Slater’s PAT was blocked. A mere 27.8 seconds were left in the half and Greeley had scored its first touchdown of the 2012 season. The half ended with the G-Men holding a razor-thin lead.

        The second half began with Greeley receiving the kickoff. They proceeded to march from their own 21 to the Bears 31, where the drive stalled.  The Bears took possession and went 63 yards to the Quaker five yard line. Captains courageous Brent Lobien and Billy Marino made a huge defensive play that dropped the Bears back five yards, however a counter play by Brewster produced a score and the Bears regained the lead 14- 9 after missing the conversion attempt at the 5:15 mark of the 3rd quarter.

        The next Quaker Possession was an 85 yard scoring drive lit off by Herstik’s 25 yard kickoff return to the Greeley 40.  Then Brandon Okun (pronounced (“oaken”), who had a good night on both sides of the ball, pushed forward with Graves and Herstik.  A major face mask penalty by the Bears helped to keep the drive going.  It ended with Graves scoring and Greeley retaking the lead 15-14.  A two point conversion attempt that relied on a Mester-to-Friedlander toss was successful and the G-Men led 17- 14 near the end of the quarter.

The Bears came back with two passes of 30 and 31 yards respectively and scored on a Quarterback sneak making the third quarter score 20 -17 as the conversion attempt failed.  Greeley scored on its next possession with another Graves-to-Friedlander option pass, on which Friedlander muscled his reception.  Graves scored and Slater added the PAT.  The score was now Greeley 24 and Brewster 20—at the 9:12 mark of the fourth quarter.

        The bears wouldn’t quit either and continued to move the ball against the G-Men via the air and several good runs. Despite a great sack by senior Matthew Xie that put Brewster in a third down and 31 situation, the ensuing play had a pass interference call that gave the Bears an automatic first down plus yardage. Now with the ball on their own 42 yard line, Brewster lost two on their next play. McNeil then hit Matt Gargano for a 60 yard scoring pass that put the Bears ahead 26 -24 with 6:00 minutes left in the game. (Yes they didn’t make this conversion attempt, either.)

        Greeley was unable to move in its next possession and punted to the Bears at the 4:09 mark. Brewster was able to hold the ball and advance it just enough to hold possession and run the clock out.

        It was a great game, but a bitter pill to swallow for the Quaker squad that has had enough bitter pills to swallow since last April.  Still, this team demonstrated resiliency, toughness and a good attitude—given the grind of just trying to be a Greeley football team and overcome all the adversity the faced by the preceding events.

        G-Men—players and coaches—lost the game, but each of them are winners in the most meaningful way. Make no mistake about this that those who know and understand the game and what it takes to play truly understand how great a job you did. Take this with you as you face Fox Lane next Friday night at 6:30 p.m.  You are equal to the task and you have been hardened under conditions that most teams would have wilted under. Dig deep G-Men and play hard!  GO GREELEY—Forward!

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