VERNON – The sudden nature of how quickly fortunes can turn was on graphic display Friday afternoon on Leo Brittain Field at Lions Stadium.
Sadly, for the Bushland Falcons, that nature saw the abrupt end of their season.
In a tale of two very different ball games, Bushland jumped all over Brock in the first half of their Class 3A Division I regional semifinal game. But Brock did the same to the Falcons in the second half, only worse, as the Eagles closed the game with 44 unanswered points to end Bushland’s season with a 51-24 defeat.
All the things which went right for Bushland (11-2) in the first half didn’t happen in the second.
“It was just kind of the opposite,” Bushland coach Josh Reynolds said. “We made played plays in the first half and kind of got (the Eagles) down a little bit and had them rattled. In the second half they came out just like we did and they made plays. Things started going their way and we didn’t answer.”
The Falcons had a 27-10 lead at halftime and led by as many as 20 in the first half.
Brock (9-4) scored 73 seconds into the second half on a 45-yard run by Brett Tutter to cut it to 27-17. That was a nice start but only the beginning, as the Falcons botched the ensuing kickoff, and the Eagles took over at Bushland’s 23-yard line.
“Once the ball got rolling it was hard to stop,” Reynolds said. “There was still plenty of game left to answer that and we didn’t answer. Bottom line is we had opportunities to make plays and stop the bleeding and that’s what it comes down to.”
Bushland did hold tight on defense, stopping the Eagles and forcing them to settle for a 34-yard field goal by Brody Baker to cut it to 27-20. But that was the last time the Falcons had the upper hand.
In a 67-second span late in the third quarter, Brock took control of the game for good. Reid Watkins scored the first of his three touchdowns on a 6-yard run, and after forcing a punt, Tyler Moody hit Carson Finney on a 70-yard scoring pass to give the Eagles a 34-27 lead with 02 seconds left in the quarter.
Bushland’s Max Rodriguez appeared to tie the game by returning the ensuing kickoff for a score, but the Falcons were whistled for holding. They managed only 85 yards and three first downs in the second half.
“We kind of struggled with running the ball most of the game,” Reynolds said. “We hit some big plays in the passing game in the first half and we just didn’t connect on those in the second half.”
Watkins ran for a pair of 5-yard touchdowns in the final four minutes to add to Brock’s final margin.
“We talked to the boys and tried to settle them down and told them to stay with the process,” Brock coach Billy Mathis said. “We made a few adjustments there on the offensive line. We played more relentless.”
The first big break of the game came when Bushland’s Matthew Bridges recovered a fumble at the Brock 18. On the next play, Bushland’s Tanner Adams took a reverse in for a score to make it 7-0.
That lasted all of 12 seconds and was the first of three straight scoring plays from scrimmage. Brock returned the ensuing kickoff to midfield, and a face mask penalty on the Falcons pushed the ball to the Bushland 35. Moody then hit Jaxon Hart over the middle for a scoring pass to tie it 7-7.
Bushland answered when Max Rodriguez returned the ensuing kickoff to Brock’s 46. The Falcons wasted no time as Dawson Jaco hit Cole Purcell on a beautiful scoring pass for a 14-7 Bushland lead.
After forcing a punt, the Falcons struck another huge play, as on third down, Jaco hit Jate Suggs on a quick post over the middle and Kade Gavina broke a tackle and did the rest himself, outracing Brock defenders 71 yards for a touchdown and a 20-7 lead. Jaco also scored on a 4-yard run midway through the second quarter to make it 27-7.