The Brookhaven High School football team didn’t show much offensively during the first quarter of its City League-North Division game at Northland on Friday, Sept. 23.
The Bearcats were limited to 14 yards and one first down — by penalty — on their first three possessions, but the Vikings also struggled when they had the ball in the opening 12 minutes (one first down).
Brookhaven senior quarterback Tajuan Green overcame the slow start, however, to lead his team to a 35-14 victory, as the Bearcats improved to 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the City-North.
"I was a little anxious," Green said. "And when I'm anxious, I get a little too much arm strength. I just had to calm down."
On a first-and-15 from the Northland 31 early in the second quarter, Green lofted a pass down the middle that looked like it might sail over sophomore receiver Clevis Towns' outstretched hands, but Towns used a burst of speed to make the catch and put Brookhaven ahead 7-0.
"That was all Clevis," Green said. "After that, I sort of got in a zone and things came to me a little easier."
Following a Northland punt, the Bearcats mixed the pass and run during their next possession on a 71-yard drive capped by Green’s 25-yard scoring run to go ahead 14-0. Green finished with 149 yards rushing and also had touchdown runs of 1 and 70 yards.
The Vikings cut the lead to 14-6 at halftime on an 11-yard scoring pass from Marquan Napper to Wesley Green, but Brookhaven pushed its advantage back to 21-6 on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Green to junior running back Kevin Greenhow early in the third quarter.
"We’ve started out slowly in almost every game and that's something we're going to have to improve on as the season progresses," Brookhaven coach Trevor White said. "We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot the first half. And Northland put a terrific drive together at the end of the half and suddenly it's a game and it shouldn't have been.
"We didn't just tell Tajuan. We told the entire offense to concentrate on hitting the layups. When Clevis showed us that extra gear (on his touchdown reception) I think the team was able to relax a little and focus more."
Brookhaven held a 239-157 edge in rushing yardage, and the Bearcats threw for 111 yards while holding Northland to 52 yards through the air.
Green misfired on six of his first seven attempts but then completed six of his next eight.
"The most frustrating thing is that we lost," Northland coach Kevin Tooson said. "But it stings even more because I think we had as much talent as Brookhaven. Maybe more talent. But we didn't play with any confidence at all. The last time we had an early lead against a good team was never. And when we do fall behind, I can just see our confidence dwindle."
BROOKHAVEN 0 14 14 7 -- 35
NORTHLAND 0 6 0 8 -- 14
B--Towns 31 pass from Green (Kamara kick)
B--Green 25 run (Kamara kick)
N--Green 11 pass from Napper (kick failed)
B--Greenhow 9 pass from Green (Kamara kick)
B--Green 1 run (Kamara kick)
N--Turay 1 run (Green run)
B--Green 70 run (Kamara kick)