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High-powered Knights topple Brookfield

November 9, 2013
By DAVE BAUGH - Tribune Chronicle correspondent ( , Underthelights

BROOKFIELD - Since their season began back on Aug. 30 against Springfield, Brookfield lived up to their mascot. Despite double-digit losses to both Struthers and Hubbard, the Warriors came back stronger each week as they outscored their 10 regular season opponents 230-160 en route to an 8-2 record and their third consecutive playoff appearance.

Unfortunately for the Warriors, the shining armor of the St. Thomas Aquinas Knights proved to be too bright as they closed the game with 27 unanswered points to pull away from the Warriors, 47-14.

While Aquinas' high-powered offense led the way for the Knights, their first touchdown of the game came courtesy of the defense. After a pair of field goals gave them a 6-0 lead, Frankie DeMarzio recovered a fumble by Brookfield quarterback Augustus Necastro and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown.

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Brookfield’s Chris Johnson (21) is brought down by a host of Aquinas’ players, including Jeff Burchett (68), Nathan Rich (27) and Jacob Fleenor (2).

Despite the early mistakes, the Warriors came back with a big play of their own. On a fourth down and long with 9:40 remaining in the first half, Necastro tossed a lateral pass to senior Joe Clark, who threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Marc Kraml. Exactly 3 minutes later, Aquinas' Sam Pusateri hauled his first of three touchdown receptions, a 28-yarder from Anthony Moeglin.

While Clark responded with an 11-yard touchdown run 2:44 before halftime, Aquinas continued to make big plays throughout the game, which included an interception late in the first half deep in their own territory by Pusateri.

"That was really big for them," Brookfield coach Randy Clark said. "We thought that we had it open, but it was a good play on their part that swung the game for them."

With less than 3 minutes into the second half, Moeglin, who finished the game 11-for-19 for 232 yards and four touchdowns, connected with Alex Benedetti for a 68-yard touchdown pass to take a 27-14 lead.

St. Thomas Aquinas coach Tim Budd credits his team's past postseason experience on the road for their composure down the stretch.

"This is our third year in a row playing on the road in the playoffs, so the kids are used to going on the road in hostile territory," Budd said. "They got us on a couple gimmicky plays, but once we took that away and played good, sound football, we were fine."

Clark knew his team had their chances throughout the game, but he also credited Aquinas for making the most of their's.

"We played well in the first half, but we had too many penalties and turnovers," Clark said. "Their wishbone caused us a lot of problems, and they got the best of us tonight."

While the Warriors season ended at 8-2, Clark was extremely proud of his team's efforts throughout the season. He's especially proud of his seniors, who accomplished an awful lot in their careers.

"I believe that this class has the most wins in Brookfield history," Clark said of his senior. "After losing last year's group of seniors, many people didn't think much of us coming into this year, but our guys stepped it up and had a successful year.

"Every playoff appearance is gratifying, but I think that this team overachieved. When you prosper like that, it's really something extra."