Garfield stuns LaBrae with late TD run

By Steve Ruman


Just eight days ago, the Garrettsville Garfield High football team backed its way into the playoffs. After losing three of their final four games, the G-Men received outside help in securing the eighth and final spot in Division V, Region 17.

The G-Men have since plowed their way into the Region 17 title game.

Garfield earned its way to the regional final with a thrilling 33-28 win over LaBrae on Saturday night at Bo Rein Stadium. The victory comes one week after the G-Men won their first-ever playoff game by upsetting top-seeded South Range.

The G-Men and Vikings combined to score five touchdowns and 34 points in the final 6:41 of the fourth quarter. The game’s final points came with just four ticks left on the clock — a Kyle Borrelli 14-yard touchdown run which sent the G-Men (9-3) to next Saturday’s regional championship game against Canton Central Catholic.

LaBrae (8-4) had scored a touchdown with 55 seconds left in the game to take a 28-27 lead.

“This team, they are gamers, they thrive under pressure,” said Garfield coach Mike Moser. “I always say that if we can keep a game close, I like our guys and I like our chances.

“We started off about as poorly as you can start off a game. So that’s just more credit to our kids for staying in the fight and believing.”

Early on, it was all LaBrae. On Garfield’s first play from scrimmage, Vikings defender Tariq Drake intercepted a pass and returned it 53 yards to the Garfield three. From there, Carlton Brown scored to give LaBrae a quick 6-0 advantage.

The Vikings took a 13-0 lead on their next possession on an Arjay Oliver 24 yard pass from Brown.

The G-Men eventually took a 14-13 lead on a Borrelli three-yard run with 3:31 left in the third period. The score remained that way until a wild series of events took place beginning midway through the final frame.

A Dalton Fall 8-yard run gave Garfield a 21-13 lead with 6:41 showing on the clock. LaBrae immediately answered on its next offensive play with a Drake 65-yard touchdown reception from Brown and a successful two-point conversion to tie the game at 21-21. On Garfield’s next offensive play, Borrelli rambled 75 yards to paydirt to give the G-Men a 27-21 advantage.

“That whole ebb and flow, it was crazy,” Moser said. “Each team kept making plays, it didn’t give you time to catch your breath.”

LaBrae put together a sustained drive, capped by a Benton Tennant seven-yard pass reception and a successful PAT to go up 28-27 with 0:55 showing on the clock.

Garfield’s final possession began at its 27 with 48 seconds left in the game. The G-Men marched down to the 14 in five plays, and also benefited from an interference call. That set up Borrelli’s game-winning run.

“We never give up, we knew that we were going to find a way,” Borrelli said. “That last run, it was surreal. I knew when I broke open I was going to score. There wasn’t a guy in sight, because of the great play of the offensive line.

“We looked up to older players from such a young age. We had a bunch of great players set the tone a few years ago, and we wanted to exceed their standards.”

LaBrae coach John Armeni said the back-and-forth contest was typical of the style of games his team faced throughout the season.

“All year long our kids have been like cardiac kids, we’ve become accustomed to tight games, but it doesn’t make this feel any better,” Armeni said. “In this game, there were a lot of missed opportunities. Unfortunately, there can only be one winner and we came up on the short end of the stick.”

Borrelli finished with 138 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries.

Brown led the LaBrae offense, completing 12 of 19 passes (three TDs) for 171 yards. Drake pulled in five receptions for 106 yards.

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