Clear Brook uses big plays to topple La Porte, 28-6
For almost two quarters, Clear Brook likely didn’t follow the script first-year head coach Lupe Florez designed for his football team Friday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
However, once the Wolverines found their footing, Brook dominated the final 27 minutes in a 28-6 season-opening victory against La Porte.
The Wolverines spotted the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead at the 5:23 mark of the second quarter before reeling off 28 unanswered points in rolling to the triumph.
“Clear Brook has been known for its offense, but this year our goal is to be known for defense,” Florez said. “We’ve got offensive weapons, but the guys on defense played lights out long enough to keep us in it for our young offense to sort things out.”
La Porte’s lone lead came on an 11-yard touchdown run by sophomore Brandon Collins for a 6-0 edge, but Brook would grab the upper hand for good just five plays later.
The Wolverine touchdown drive covered 74 yards, and 71 of those was the result of a completion from junior quarterback Shane Porter to speedy junior wide receiver Loronzo Thompson.
Two plays later, senior running back Michael Norris scored from a yard out at the 3:23 mark of the second quarter. Kicker Curtis Falkenburg then split the uprights on the first of his four successful PAT kicks.
That 7-6 lead held up as the halftime score, and the Wolverines cashed in on a big break at the outset of the second half.
Clear Brook’s first punt of the third quarter was fumbled, and Brook sophomore Darrius Pamplin pounced on the ball at the La Porte 48 yard line.
From there, the Wolverines needed just one play to reach the end zone.
Porter fired a deep pass down the middle to senior wide receiver La’Darrion Florez, whose defender stumbled and fell. Florez easily hauled in the pass and trotted into the end zone as the Brook lead swelled to 14-6 at 9:58 of the third period.
La Porte, though, answered with a nifty eight-play drive which reached the Wolverine 17 yard line.
That’s when Clear Brook came up with its biggest play of the night, as the Wolverine front seven broke through the La Porte offensive line to throw running back Lonnie Stark for a 3-yard loss on fourth-and-1.
That stop proved to be a difference-maker as the Wolverine offense turned the defensive stand into a touchdown with a methodical 10-play scoring drive.
Big installments in the march were completions of 15 and 25 yards from Porter to Thompson while Norris carried three times for 18 yards.
Porter finalized the march with an 11-yard TD strike to Thompson with 1:59 left in the third quarter as Brook’s lead stretched to 21-6.
After the Brook defense forced a three-and-out possession, the Wolverines then held the ball for the next 17 plays. A botched 37-yard field goal attempt resulted in an incomplete pass, but Brook nevertheless managed to consume an important seven minutes and seven seconds.
Brook’s Pamplin came up with another big play, intercepting La Porte quarterback River Thompson to set up the Wolverines’ final score.
The four-play, 33-yard drive featured four consecutive runs by Norris, the last of which covered five yards with 2:17 left in helping Brook build a 22-point cushion.
“First-half mistakes killed us,” Florez said. “We’ve got a lot of young kids. Even our quarterback hasn’t had a varsity rep until tonight.
“I’m super proud of the players and coaches. Our kids played with total effort on defense. We’ve been talking about that to these guys since day one. (The opponent) can be bigger than you and faster than you, but they will not match your effort.
“We do an effort drill every day. Our goal is to out-effort every single team we play.”
Florez said scrimmages against Dawson and Manvel helped prepare his squad for Friday’s battle.
“Both of those are good teams, and they got us ready,” the Wolverine boss said. “La Porte’s a good football team. My hat is off to those guys. They made it a battle, and I think you’ll see big things out of them.”