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Brookfield wins turnover battle, defeats Newton Falls

September 7, 2013
By MATT WAGNER - Tribune Chronicle ( , Underthelights

NEWTON FALLS - The day prior to Brookfield's Friday night game at Newton Falls, the Warriors discussed the importance of winning the turnover battle, and during that talk, Brookfield's R.J. Leon had noted that whenever the team forces two turnovers in game, the Warriors haven't failed to lose it since the senior has played in the program.

In Brookfield's 46-6 win over the Tigers, not only did the Warriors force at least two turnovers and win the turnover battle, but they turned two interceptions for touchdowns and scored 20 points off three interceptions.

"Ever since I've been here, that's what we hang our hats on - win the turnover battle and we'll win games," Leon said. "Whenever we have two turnovers, we've won the game since we've been here. We had more than two, and we won the game."

Leon created the first of Brookfield's defensive touchdowns, which also turned out to be the team's first points in the game at the 3:46 mark in the first quarter.

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound linebacker jumped a pass from Tiger (1-1) quarterback Brandon Fuller, who scrambled out of the pocket and toward the home-team sideline before trying to hit Derek Walton across the middle. With the jump, Leon went practically untouched for 55 yards and the score.

"That was a big interception," Brookfield coach Randy Clark said. "That first series on offense was big, too, but we didn't capitalize on the nice kick return we had. We came back and we fumble the next possession. The interception really set us off."

The next pick-six didn't occur until the second half, but it put any chance of a Newton Falls comeback to the sword. With a 20-0 lead from halftime, Tyler Hailey picked off a Josh Walters pass and returned it 35 yards for the score.

The last interception came on the next drive, when a Fuller pass was tipped and fell into Joey Clark's hands. Clark returned it to the Newton Falls 16-yard line, and an Augustus Necastro screen pass to Marc Kraml three plays later increased the Warriors' lead to 34.

While Leon's interception in the first quarter sparked the Warriors, it had a devastating effect on the Newton Falls offense.

Fuller took a hit on the sideline and had to be helped off the field. He didn't return until immediately following Hailey interception for a touchdown, and without the centerpiece of the offense, the unit struggled to get anything going, having just one first down in the first half.

"He's a good percentage of our offense," Newton Falls coach Jon Culp said. "The kid averaged 20 yards per carry. When you take that out, it changes what we're doing."

With the win, the Warriors' regular-season winning streak stretched to 16 games, with the last loss coming 23 months ago. Leon said the players aren't worried about extending the winning streak, looking to stay focused on this year.

"I don't think we really think about it to be honest," Leon said. "We don't really talk about (it). Last year was great - don't get me wrong - but as a group and as a whole in the locker room, we don't really talk about it. We're focused on this year, going 15-0. Make it to the playoffs first, don't get me wrong."