The stings from a buzzing swarm of belligerent Bees are feeble in comparison to the rugged toughness possessed by a Bulldog.
On the night of Oct. 23, Stow rolled into the hive of the Brecksville Bees, looking to keep their undefeated record intact. Prior to the game, Brecksville held a 7-1 record, but continuing to play with the absence of two key starters—one of which is their quarterback—certainly would hinder their offensive presence.
On the first play of the game junior quarterback Kyle Vantrease’s pass was deflected, falling into the hands of a Brecksville defender. Though finding themselves in prime scoring position, the Bees were unable to convert and turned it over on downs. From there, sloppy play and punting were the subjects of the opening minutes.
Stow would be the first to focus in, shed the sloppiness, and begin to control the game.
“We slowed it down and started playing like we usually do,” junior wide receiver Joe Andrassy said.
With twenty-six seconds left in the first quarter, Andrassy was the one to take action, going 56-yards into the end zone after a short pass from Vantrease and putting Stow on the board first to close the quarter.
Brecksville had some energy of their own to start the second quarter, opening the first seconds with an 86-yard touchdown run to tie the game 7-7. Stow fired back four minutes later with another Andrassy touchdown assisted by the arm of Vantrease. With 3:56 left to go in the half, senior running back Jayson Gobble decided to jump in on the action with a 24-yard touchdown run of his own to extend the lead to 21-7.
Brecksville’s defense knew the threat the Bulldogs have in the backfield and if they wanted a shot at winning this one they would need to lock down Gobble. With that, they did a decent job containing Stow’s run game, but Stow did not flinch, in turn, resorting to the aerial attack, and with great success. Vantrease stepped up to the Bee’s defense and completed the night with 279 passing yards and a rushing touchdown of his own. Andrassy lit up the field, ending the night with 190 receiving yards and two touchdowns, while sneaking in the special “Tode Package” for a moment.
“We weren’t expecting the run game to be so sloppy, but when they weren’t covering the bubble screen, we just exploited it and got the pass game going,” Andrassy said.
After a 35-yard field goal from junior kicker Austin Burnham, Stow was on top 24-7 going into halftime.
As any team with the opportunity to squash an undefeated record, Brecksville showed they were not to be taken lightly. A 37-yard touchdown pass cut the Bee’s deficit to 24-14 with 7:50 left in the third. Senior kicker Garrett Rigby booted in a 32-yard field goal shortly after, to bump the score to 27-14 going into the fourth quarter.
The Bee’s took stride in the last quarter after a 76-yard touchdown connection to trim the deficit to 27-21 with 7:49 left to go. Both teams relied on the passing game to support their offenses. Brecksville was testing Stow’s defensive backs with long shots down the field, many of which to the benefit of the Bee’s. Now Stow found them in a position where a Brecksville touchdown, provided with an extra point, gave them the lead. This was quickly dismissed as Rigby booted another field goal—this time from 38-yards out—with 6:15 left to go in the game and a 30-21 lead.
With 4:55 to go, Brecksville shot deep again, finding a receiver for a 68-yard play, that subsequently resulted in a 1-yard touchdown punch to bring the Bee’s within two points. With the score at 30-28 in favor of Stow, the Bulldogs found themselves with a crucial possession. Vantrease showed his confidence with the ball, and reliability to come up big when needed, after he took a fake handoff 45-yards to the end zone to seal the victory for the Bulldogs with a score of 37-28.
“We knew we needed to win this game to win the Suburban League, so we just wanted to go out and make some noise,” Andrassy said.
Noise was definitely made by the Bulldogs, as it has been all year, and there is more to come, as they extend their record to 9-0, and bump Brecksville’s to 7-2. Stow will take on North Royalton (3-6) to wrap up the regular season at home on Oct. 30. With sights on double-digits in the wins column, an undefeated year is a confidence boost Stow will likely need to obtain, and maintain, entering the playoffs.
Andrassy said, “We want nothing more than to be the first 10-0 team at Stow so we’re going to go out and win this next game for sure.”