Running back Dubby McKinney uses his arm to gain a little room on his way to the end zone for the Bruins’ first touchdown of the night. The Bruins would defeat the Bulldogs 35-28 to advance to the OSAA round-of-32 play-in game. The Pilot/Jef Hatch
The Brookings-Harbor High School football team opened Friday night’s game against Sutherlin with a drive that lasted four minutes and ended in seven points being tallied on the board for the Bruins.
They never looked back.
Entering the game, the Bruins and the Bulldogs were tied for last place in the Far West League with records of 1-3.
It was a situation where the winner would advance to the round-of-32 play-in game, and the loser would hang up its cleats and call it a season.
With a score of 35-28, the Bruins are going to wear their cleats for at least one more week.
“The playoff berth was out there,” senior offensive lineman Dylan Habiger said after the game. “We just had to snatch it.
“The team that wanted it more tonight, got it.”
The Bruins put 14 points on the board in the first quarter, and then seven more in the second, third and fourth quarters to take the victory.
A run by Dubby McKinney with just over eight minutes remaining in the first quarter got the momentum going, and a second touchdown by Chandler Dodd with just 2:31 remaining kept it moving the Bruins’ direction.
The Bruins’ second touchdown may have been scored by Dodd, but it started with an interception at the Bruins’ 30-yard line on a pass attempt by the Sutherlin quarterback.
After being flushed from the pocket by a hard-charging Bruin defensive line, the Sutherlin quarterback threw the ball directly to Eddie Yeager, who caught it, ran a few yards and was tackled.
On the subsequent play, McKinney ran the ball to less than a yard from the Sutherlin endzone to set up Dodd’s carry for seven.
Sutherlin would score with 7:48 remaining in the second quarter, and the war of attrition began.
The Bruins’ junior quarterback Jr. Helme scored with 3:39 remaining on a keeper play, but the Bulldogs came back in the end of the first half to score their second touchdown of the quarter.
The Bruins got the ball back and marched down to within field goal distance, but with 16 seconds left, a 32-yard field goal attempt drifted just left of the uprights and the half ended with the Bruins up by seven.
Sutherlin began the second half with the ball and scored on its first drive only to be answered by a 12-yard touchdown pass from Helme to senior Alex Pate.
A successful pass attack is something that Bruin fans have been waiting to see for most of the season, and the stars aligned for Helme and his receiving core Friday night.
“It felt great,” Helme said when asked about the completion. “The offensive line made the blocks and Pate was in place to catch the ball. I wouldn’t have gotten the pass off though if the line hadn’t done their job.”
Helme would connect for a second touchdown with 4:43 remaining in the fourth quarter after a Sutherlin score knotted the game up at 28.
On a third down play after the Bruins were sacked for a loss, Helme rolled right and looked downfield for McKinney who was open.
Helme threw the ball and narrowly missed having it knocked out of the air by a Sutherlin defender. McKinney caught the ball at his knees, tucked it under his arm and juked two defenders before high-stepping into the endzone for the Bruins’ final points of the game.
“It’s all about getting confidence in these young kids,” Head Coach Joe Morin said. “Once they got that confidence they started playing.
“We finally got a break,” he added. “I always tell the kids the harder you work, the luckier you get.”
The Bruin defense made its imprint on the game as well. With under two minutes left in the game, they sacked the quarterback for a loss on third down, and then ran him down one last time for a loss of seven yards to force a turnover on downs.
In his post-game talk with the team, Morin appeared apologetic before breaking into a grin.
“I’m sorry guys, you have to hang out another week,” he said, and then added with enthusiasm. “We’re heading to Klamath Falls!”
The Bruins will travel to Klamath Falls to face the Pelicans of Klamath Union on Friday. The game time is yet to be determined.