Brunswick School’s football team registered three touchdown runs, returned two interceptions to the end zone and scored on a screen pass against Phillips Academy (Andover) on Saturday – and that was just in the first half.
Indeed, as the minutes went by the touchdowns and points, mounted for the Bruins, who amassed 40 first-half points in a dominant performance in Andover, Massachusetts.
Chris Gaine ran for two touchdowns, Jalen Johnson and Charlie Johnson intercepted passes for touchdowns, Kha’lil Eason caught a scoring strike and Danny Lauter ran into the end zone for Brunswick in its resounding 40-0 road triumph over Phillips Academy in a Northeast Prep game held on Saturday afternoon.
“It was the first game all year that we did not receive the opening kickoff, so as coaches we were a little nervous, because it was just something different, but we were able to still get off to a fast start,” Bruins coach Mike Hannigan said.
They certainly did.
Jalen Johnson, a senior defensive back, recovered a Phillips Academy fumble on the fourth play of the game. On the Bruins’ second offensive play, Eason caught a screen pass and outran the defense for a 62-yard touchdown, setting the scene what would be a banner scoring day for the Bruins.
Brunswick’s next two scores came from its defensive unit, as Jalen Johnson returned an interception for a touchdown on Andover’s next series, making it 13-0. Then it was senior defensive back Charlie Johnson’s turn to score a defensive touchdown. He jumped a hitch route, picked off an Andover pass and dashed to the end zone, putting the Bruins on top, 20-0, still in the first quarter. Senior running back Chris Gaine closed out the first-quarter scoring, reaching the end zone on a short run for a commanding 26-0 Brunswick lead.
“We scored on defense twice, hit a long play on offense and eased any tension we had in the first quarter,” Hannigan said. “That calmed any nerves.”
Throughout their huge first half, the Bruins had a good balance of running and passing the ball.
“They were in a bear front most of the game, a five-man front, trying to take away the run,” Hannigan said. Also, you have to take what the defense gives you, when they give you a 1-on-1. We did have a good mix offensively.”
Lauter, a senior quarterback, bulled his way ahead for a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, giving the Bruins a 33-0 advantage. Gaine broke loose on a screen pass down the Andover sideline for a 62-yard gain. The drive stalled on the Phillips’ 10-yard line, but Bruins senior linebacker George Villis got the ball back with just over a minute to play in the first half, intercepting an Andover pass on first down.
The Bruins drove down to the 1-yard line and Gaine followed his blockers for a touchdown plunge late in the second quarter, making it 40-0.
Lauter also helped Brunswick gain a significant amount of yards on the ground on several running plays. The Bruins signal-caller also completed several passes to senior wide receiver Ashton Winegardner in the opening half to move the first-down chains.
With the one-sided win, Brunswick raised its record to 4-2, heading into Saturday’s Homecoming Day matchup against visiting Cheshire Academy.
In the second half against Phillips Andover, both teams extended drives by rushing for large chunks of yardage, but there was no scoring in the half.
Hannigan credited the play of offensive linemen Miles Walker, Cliff Belknap, Michael Burton, Will Janis, Matty Augustine and Tyler Wilson for their outstanding blocking throughout the game.
“The offensive line continues to protect the quarterback,” Hannigan said. “Andover stepped up and brought a lot of heat, but our offensive line got a body on body and did a great job. That group has only given up one sack all year.”
Defensive lineman Jesse Schutzman helped spark the defense with two sacks, while Charlie and Jalen Johnson had their interception returns for touchdown and Villis set up another score by intercepting a pass.
Brunswick’s Homecoming Day game against Cheshire Academy (4-1) is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The Bruins have builtup quite a rivalry with the Cats in recent seasons.
“With no Homecoming last year, both students and alumni is excited about this Homecoming game,” Hannigan said. “There are going to be a number of events. As an alum myself, my class is talking about being back at Homecoming. For the school, kids, we are playing a very good Cheshire Academy team, which is coming in fresh off their first loss of the season, so they are going to be a newly focused and pretty upset Cheshire Academy team. Cheshire is always well-coached, they have some great players, they hit hard and are disciplined, so it should be a great game.”