HURON – Coming off a loss last week at Sioux Falls Washington, Brookings came into Friday night’s game with Huron looking to get back on track before a pair of big games to close out the regular season.
A 42-14 win - where the 14 points for the Tigers came in the last eight minutes of the game - certainly qualifies as getting back on track.
“I challenged the boys before the game – can we play four quarters; we’ve been saying that for weeks,” Brookings head coach Brady Clark said. “Tonight, we finally started to show that we could do that.”
The Bobcats had solid performances across the board on Friday night at Tiger Stadium.
On offense, Justin Cofell tossed three touchdowns with only one incompletion all game, and Tyson Brandt found paydirt twice on the ground and hauled in seven catches for nearly 100 yards.
Cofell hit Derek Brailler for a 25-yard score to open the scoring. Three minutes later, after a Payton Theodosopoulos interception – his first of two on the night - Hunter Gray took a handoff nine yards to the endzone to give the Bobcats a 14-0 lead through a quarter.
Past the midway point of the second quarter, Brandt scored the first of his rushing touchdowns as his four-yard plunge gave Brookings a 21-0 lead.
The big momentum swing happened right before the half, however.
Huron, running their hurry-up offense just ahead of the halftime horn, had moved inside the Bobcat 40-yard line. Gavin Fixsen then stepped in front of a Cade McNeil pass inside the Bobcat 20 for the interception and ran untouched for a pick-six.
Just like that, a potential 21-7 game at the half became 28-0 Brookings, and what momentum the Tigers had vanished.
“Great for Gavin, gigantic momentum swing going into the half,” Clark said.
The Bobcats scored on their first drive coming out of the second half when Cofell found Hunter Gray for an eight-yard score, and with the extra point opened a 35-0 Brookings lead, which began a running clock for the remainder of the second half.
“We came out firing in the second half. It was nice to come out, have a good first half, and then start the second half strong, too,” Clark said.
Brandt would add his second touchdown early in the fourth quarter from three yards out to give the Bobcats a 42-0 lead. A pair of late Tiger touchdowns accounted for the 42-14 final.
Brookings outgained the Tigers 338 to 276, with 146 of the Huron yards coming late in the third quarter into the fourth quarter.
Cofell finished the game 14-of-15 for 190 yards and three touchdowns. He did have one fumble which the Bobcat line pounced on.
“Cofell, once again managed the game very well,” Clark said. “He did have his second fumble of the season, but he’s the type of kid where if he makes a mistake it’s unlikely he’s going to do it again.”
Brandt hauled in seven receptions for 99 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Jackson Hoffmann added 47 yards on a pair of catches.
Israel Caldron’s 44 yards on ten carries led the Bobcat ground game. Gray added 37 yards on three carries and Brandt tallied 32 yards on nine attempts.
Defensively, Josh Devine posted six tackles including three solo, while Zach Moe added five and Gray had four.
The Bobcats picked off Tiger quarterbacks three times total in the game, twice by Theodosopoulos and a third on Fixsen’s pick-six.
All in all, Clark was pleased with the effort of his Bobcats.
“Granted, the starters didn’t end up playing a full four quarters, but the time they did play they played strong and to the end, until we subbed them out and gave the young guys opportunities,” Clark said.
The 190 yards passing was the highest for the Bobcats since the first game of the season, and it was a welcome sight for Clark.
“When we had to throw, when they had multiple guys in the box, it was nice to have an answer for things. Being able to pass the ball in those situations is so big for us,” Clark said. “And we still ran the ball well and were able to do things tonight we haven’t been able to in a while.”
With the win the Bobcats improve to 5-2 on the year. Two games remain on the regular season schedule, one at home next week against Yankton, and a week nine showdown with the four-time defending state champions from Pierre, in the capital city.
The Bobcats and Bucks get things underway at 7 p.m. on Friday at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium as part of senior night for Brookings.