Brookville came up with a stop time after time. Twice the Bees forced fumbles. Twice the Bees picked off a pass, and less than three minutes into the final quarter, Brookville’s defense swarmed Lord Botetourt receiver Xavier Stephens, stopping him immediately after his 4-yard reception on third-and-8, forcing a field-goal attempt that sailed wide left.
BHS held a slim lead. But after putting all the pieces together defensively all night, one play — one mistake — made the difference, and the Bees came up short in their season opener at Stinger Stadium, falling to Class 3 heavyweight Lord Botetourt, 15-9.
With a little more than four minutes left, Brookville held the Cavaliers to no gain for three straight plays. With LB facing fourth-and-10, though, the Bees made a crucial mistake, committing a pass interference penalty in the end zone.
“That’s exactly what hurt us right there,” BHS defensive back Daquan Calloway said. “One play in football can hurt us.”
Instead of forcing a turnover or another field-goal attempt, Brookville gave Botetourt the first down, and four plays later the Cavs had retaken the lead.
Evan Eller scampered in for a 9-yard touchdown — and the Cavaliers converted a two-point conversion — to go up for good. The score gave Eller, who split snaps with James-Ryan Salvi at quarterback, 21 rushing yards on the possession. Eller finished with a team-high 72 yards on 14 rushes.
The play put a damper on an otherwise brilliant night for the Brookville defense, highlighted by the play of Calloway and linebacker Bobby Moran.
Each pulled down an interception, and both came up with big stops in the low-scoring affair and garnered the praise of LB coach Jamie Harless.
“He ain’t no bigger than a popcorn fart, but boy he plays football,” Harless said of Moran, the 5-foot-7, 145-pound linebacker who was in on multiple tackles.
Two defensive linemen shined for the Bees, too, starting with Jakell Callahan, the 5-11, 285-pounder who in the second quarter scored Brookville’s lone touchdown on a fumble recovery and return.
It wasn’t the fastest 40-yard dash, but Callahan found the end zone before any LB player could catch up.
“I’ve never seen that man run that fast,” Moran said of Callahan, who was mobbed by his teammates on the sideline following the score that cut the LB lead to 7-6. The extra point missed.
Nicholas Hill, another lineman who checks in at 6-2 and 275 pounds, also picked up a fumble and returned it 20 yards.
Brookville’s second score came courtesy of Ethan Brown, the Bees’ new junior kicker who made up fort his missed point-after attempt with a 36-yard field goal in the third quarter that gave Brookville a 9-7 lead.
Brookville’s defense held LB to 162 yards of total offense. In addition to Eller, Ethan Clower scored for the Cavaliers on his 4-yard run that gave LB a 6-0 advantage in the first quarter.
Clower scored after Hunter Rice’s gain of 15 yards. Rice, the Division I prospect with multiple offers, went down with an ankle injury after being tackled on the play around the five-minute mark of the first quarter. He did not return.
“I feel like I stole his thunder,” Clower said. “That was his touchdown, but I’m glad I was the one chosen for it.”
According to Harless, Rice, who was on crutches after the game, was held out of the game as “a precautionary measure” following the injury he suffered with about five minutes left in the first quarter.
Brookville, meanwhile, gained just 57 yards of total offense. The Bees tallied five total first downs. They turned the ball over on downs twice, threw and interception and recorded four three-and-outs to end possessions.
“Defense was balling out,” Moran said. “Offense there’s a couple things that need to click better, but that’s what the whole season’s for.”
Jared Glinski, the Bees’ new quarterback who played every snap thanks to his other role as defensive back, went 2 for 12 for 5 yards with the interception.
“Some of his misses, they were barely,” BHS coach Jon Meeks said of Glinski. “That’s easy to fix. It’s stuff you do in practice with timing. The kid was exhausted, and he did not come out for one play.”
The Bees, Meeks added, were the obvious underdog in the matchup, but he thinks there’s plenty to build on.
“I think this might be the biggest we’ve been in my time as head coach at Brookville. I can’t remember a game that I was hearing that much of, ‘Zero chance of even competing.’ Most people were telling me, ‘Game’s over at halftime [you’ll probably be down 42-0 at halftime],’” Meeks said.
“They are bigger than us; they are well-coached, and they’ve got athletes, but we’ve got athletes, too. We play hard, too. I think our guys showed them how physical our brand of football is in the Seminole. … We’ll play anybody. Probably the proudest I’ve ever been of a team after a loss. I’m not big on moral victories. Don’t believe in them. You win or you lose, but as a coach, I don’t know if I could be prouder of the effort and the way and the heart my guys played with.”
Emily Brown covers the Hillcats, ODAC and high school sports for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5529.