BROOKVILLE — Nine interceptions and seven touchdowns. It was high on risk-reward when the ball was thrown into the air last Friday night.
Of those nine interceptions, the Brookville Raiders defense grabbed four of them and turned those into 19 points in a 33-14 win over visiting Kane on a quirky Pink Night matchup.
Shaking off four picks thrown by Jack Krug, who still threw for 291 yards and five TDs, the Raiders defense intercepted Kane starting quarterback Zuke Smith four times and Harley Morris once.
Kane failed to turn any of Krug’s errant passes into points.
Improving to 7-1, the Raiders kept their hopes for at least share of the District 9 Large School Division title by jumping out to a 20-0 lead over the Wolves (5-3) by the 7:18 mark of the second quarter.
By that point, Kane had already thrown three interceptions while managing just four first downs and 64 yards of offense.
“That’s the fastest we’ve come out this year, scoring points. The defense came out fired up,” Raiders head coach Scott Park said. “We preached all week that they were a good team and they’d be desperate coming in because they’d lost the last two games and seeding is important.”
But the Raiders started the game with an 11-play, 60-yard drive that finished with Krug’s 6-yard TD pass to Ian Thrush.
“That’s why we like to take the ball first and we went down and scored and set the tone early and put them on their heels on offense,” Park said. “When they got down three TDs, they were forcing throws and put them behind the eight-ball.”
Later in the first quarter and into the second, the Raiders intercepted the Wolves three times in a span of six plays and turned two of them into touchdowns. Middle linebacker Nathan Taylor grabbed Smith’s pass at the Kane 40 and the Raiders cashed in five plays later on Krug’s 19-yard TD pass to Ryan Daisley.
Then Brayden Kunselman’s acrobatic, juggling interception downfield of another Smith pass gave the Raiders the ball again. However, Kane defensive back Bobby Rumcik intercepted Krug for the second time in the first quarter two plays later.
Kane failed to score a point off any of Krug’s interceptions and four plays later it was Kyle MacBeth’s seventh interception of the year on a pass throw by Harley Morris. The Raiders went 80 yards on 12 plays with Krug hitting MacBeth on a 12-yarder to put the Raiders up by the 20-0 margin.
“We were concerned with the run and containing Smith because he like to get to the outside,” Park said. “We just played good defense. We were at the right place at the right time and some of those interceptions were really good catches. Ian’s sliding catch was good, Nathan’s and Brayden’s … at least three might have been that way. You have to give the guys on defense a lot of credit.
“Coach Nosker is doing a great job with the defensive game plan and Coach (Jim) Rush and (Dave) Fitch are getting the secondary and linemen ready to go and they’re really putting a good season together on the defensive side of the ball.”
Smith’s 28-yard screen pass to Jake Alcorn got the Wolves on the board at 20-7 with 1:41 left in the first half. The Raiders reached the Wolves’ 17 in the waning seconds of the half, but Morris intercepted Krug at the 8 to end any scoring threat.
Ian Thrush’ interception of Smith on Kane’s second possession of the third quarter led to more Raiders points. On third-and-eight from the Kane 28, Krug found a wide-open Cole LaBenne for a 28-yard screen pass for a TD and a 26-7 lead at the 6:18 mark. Three plays earlier, Taylor from his punter spot on fourth-and-five, threw a 15-yard pass to Kunselman to extend the drive.
Morris intercepted Krug for his fourth giveaway near midfield, but the Raiders forced the Wolves on a three-and-out possession and on their first play after a Kane punt, Krug hit Thrush in stride for a 65-yard TD pass and what would turn out to be the Raiders’ final points with 3:37 left in the third quarter.
“That was a sweet pass and for someone struggling throwing like he was, he really put that ball out there (to Ian) nice and let him run under it,” said Park.
Krug completed 24 of 44 passes, his 291 yards getting him over the 5,000-yard milestone at 5,218. He’s the 12th D9 QB to get over that mark. His now 72 career TD passes rank sixth in D9 history.
Thrush caught eight passes for 113 yards and two TDs and he’s now No. 2 in team history behind former teammate Bryan Dworek in receptions and yards while his 22 career TD catches is one behind another former teammate Cabe Park’s 23.
Alcorn and Smith connected on a 54-yard TD pass to close the scoring with 8:11 left in the game.
The Raiders missed on a field goal chance when Donavan Hoffman went wide right on a 22-yarder with 3:58 left.
NOTES: Both teams play again this Friday. The Raiders visit Ridgway in a game that’ll be played in Johnsonburg. If Ridgway wins, the Elkers take their second division title. If the Raiders win, they can claim a three-way share with Clarion and Ridgway, but only if Clarion loses to Brockway. Clarion wins the title outright with a win and a Raiders win over Ridgway. ... Kane hosts St. Marys for its final regular-season game. ... It’s the first-ever win for the Raiders at home against Kane and now they’re 1-5-1 all-time in Brookville. The last time the Wolves were in Brookville was in 1955 for the first-ever Brookville night football game at the fairgounds, currently the location of the Brookville Area Little League complex. They played to a 0-0 tie.