BROOKVILLE — In what was a bizarre football game from start to finish, the Brookville Raiders did enough to end the regular season with a home victory on Senior Night Friday.
During their 21-14 win over Redbank Valley, the Raiders encountered some good, some bad, and some really ugly situations on the field — situations that made Brookville look anything but the 8-2 team it is.
Prior to the game, it was determined that the Raiders had clinched the No. 2 seed in the District IX Class AA playoffs and will take on No. 3 Moniteau next week, with a time, date and location yet to be determined.
Perhaps that was what the Raiders were thinking about during Friday night's action.
With the Raiders ahead 21-0 late in the fourth quarter, things quickly became a lot more interesting than the Raiders and head coach Chris Dworek would have liked.
With some of the second-team defensive players on the field, the Bulldogs marched the ball down the field 80 yards to score on a Brandon Bain two-yard touchdown run to make it 21-7 with 1:05 left in the game.
Redbank Valley naturally went for the onside kick following the touchdown and recovered the football, giving the Bulldogs possession back.
With the ball at midfield, Redbank Valley needed seven plays before Caleb Smith caught a three-yard touchdown pass from Bain to make it 21-14 with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game.
The Bulldogs attempted a second onside kick but failed to recover, giving the Raiders possession with six seconds left.
What followed was a head-scratcher, as Brookville quarterback Steven Kennedy faked a kneel down that would have ended the game and threw a pass for his intended receiver Jared Heschke.
The play backfired when Bain intercepted the pass, giving Redbank Valley the ball back with one second left in the game.
A quick pass to Smith inside the Bulldogs' 30-yard line turned into a big gain for the receiver, as the entire stadium watched Smith break tackles and move the ball downfield. With some momentum, Smith was finally brought down as he fumbled the football around the 30-yard line of Brookville to end the game.
After a collective sigh of relief from the Brookville faithful was heard, the questions were being raised as to how the Raiders held a 21-point lead so late in the game and came that close to blowing it.
"My bull-headed response is that (Redbank Valley) aren't the only ones to work on stuff," Dworek said. "I just wanted to try it and work on it. The worst thing that could have happened didn't happen, which was them run it back for a touchdown. It was stupid on my part, and I apologized to the team after. I should know better."
Though they held a 21-point advantage, Brookville was anything but dominant Friday, as the offense struggled mightily all night, losing at the line of scrimmage.
From multiple turnovers to a slew of penalties, the Raiders didn't look like themselves, perhaps looking ahead to the playoffs next week, and not focusing on the task at hand.
"It seems like when we don't respect teams, this is how they act," Dworek said. "Based on the way we acted like this before, we didn't respect them as much as we should have. I think the combination of the playoffs, knowing we're playing Moniteau, and that we are definitely a No. 2 seed (played into it)."
Things weren't all bad for Brookville, as the Raiders' defense was nearly unbeatable in the first half.
Also making a big difference was the play of the night, a 48-yard interception return deep inside Redbank Valley territory in the third quarter by Heschke to set up a Kennedy-to-Heschke five-yard touchdown pass that gave the Raiders a 14-0 lead at the time.
"That was a big play," Dworek said of the interception.
On the reception, Heschke took sole possession of the Brookville all-time career touchdown reception list with 15.
"Steven read the pre-read and zipped it into (Heschke's) chest," Dworek said. "It was a good pass and a good catch. It was a big spark, and a two-touchdown lead was a big breath of fresh air."
Brookville's first score came early in the game when Ryan Kerr punched it in from three yards out to make it 7-0 with 2:26 left in the first quarter.
The Raiders' offense was stagnant for most of the game before Conan Gilhousen scored on a two-yard touchdown run with 4:32 left in the game to give Brookville the 21-0 cushion.