Story by John Blake
Photos and video by Larry Bennet
The potent Brecksville offense was bottled up and the Bees as a whole looked out of sync. Then in just 13 seconds, everything changed.
The host Bees scored two touchdowns in that span and three times in the final six minutes of the first half to break away from Westlake, 39-14, Friday night in the regular season football finale at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School in Southwestern Conference action.
Luckily for Brecksville, it will be staying put for a week longer. The Bees, now 9-1, had already clinched a Division II playoff spot prior to Week 10. The victory over the visiting Demons ensured them a home playoff game next weekend.
"You only get five home games a year, and to get a bonus game that means a whole hell of a lot. What else could you ask for?" said Brecksville head football coach Jason Black. "I'm very excited, very happy for the kids."
It wasn't always pretty for Black's squad.
Sacks and sloppy play marred much of the first 20 minutes of play. The Bees defense couldn't contain Westlake running back JaQuan Hardy, who ran for 128 yards in the first half. That included 43 on a long touchdown run which tied the game at 7-7 with 7:20 left in the second quarter.
But with a little help from some Demon miscues, Brecksville quickly took control of the game.
Carlo Milano's 13-yard touchdown run gave the Bees a 14-7 lead with just under six minutes remaining in the half. Following a fumble recovery on the ensuing kickoff, quarterback Timmy Tupa connected with brother Tyler Tupa for their second score of the night. The 17-yard pass and catch on the first play put Brecksville ahead, 20-7, with 5:41 left.
Just when Westlake thought it was going to bounce back, there were the Bees again to answer.
Nicholas Moracz cut it to a one possession game with a 13-yard catch from Kent Axcell with less than a minute left on the clock. However, thanks to a Westlake pass interference penalty on the next drive, the Bees were threatening
This time, Timmy Tupa ran it in from 13 yards out with 22 seconds left to give Brecksville a 27-14 cushion heading into the locker room.
"They're a good football team and they capitalized every time we stubbed our toe a little bit," said Westlake head coach Mark Campo. "Right before the half, that was a killer. They were physical, but I'm proud of the way our kids played."
Westlake still had some fight left in the second half, but just couldn't shake the mistakes. Hardy sprinted 55 yards to the end zone on the Demons' first drive of the third quarter but it was called back due to holding. Hardy was held to 57 yards in the second half.
"We didn't start well, had some jitters and some nerves with what's going on," Black said.
"We were able to take advantage of what was given to us, which was good," he said. "I think at halftime they got back to playing the way they were supposed to. We kind of reorganized them, regrouped them at halftime, making sure they stayed in the right gap, making sure they stayed in the right spot.
"I think that was key to what we were trying to do."
Milano, finishing with 92 yards on 12 carries, made it a hat trick on the night, scoring twice more in the second half. He added a 6-yard touchdown late in the third quarter and 30-yard run early in the fourth. His second touchdown was set up by a Dan Shirilla interception to the 7-yard line.
Timmy Tupa was a modest 6-of-12 passing for 47 yards, but accounted for three scores. His 16-yard toss to Tyler Tupa late in the first quarter gave Brecksville a 7-0 lead.
Westlake ended its 2013 season at 5-5.
"We're disappointed," Campo said. "We would like to still be playing, but as I told the kids, we'll learn from this and our seniors will move on.
"When you face adversity, sometimes you learn a lot more than when things are going well. Our underclassmen will come back and we'll regroup and get after it," he said.
It will be the Bees' first postseason appearance since 2010 and first home playoff game since the 2006 season. In this week's OHSAA computer poll, Brecksville was listed as the No. 3 seed in the Division II, Region 3 standings behind Glenville and Willoughby South. The final playoff pairings will be released Sunday.
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