OBERLIN — Stopping Kalif Townsel is easier said than done. Brookside learned the painful lesson Friday.
With 40 carries for 268 yards and three touchdowns by Townsel, Oberlin kicked off the conference season with a 41-28 win over Patriot Athletic Conference crossover rival Brookside.
But the Cardinals (0-4, 0-1) did not make it easy on the Phoenix (4-0, 1-0). In fact, they had the lead for most of the first quarter.
Brookside took advantage of a number of big plays to pounce early, including a 42-yard touchdown run from Kyle Houston and a 67-yard run from Jake Morgan for a 14-7.
“We were a little uptight it being our first conference game,” Oberlin coach Howery said. “We knew that a lot of people feel that Oberlin is going to come into the conference and lay eggs. Once we calmed down we started to do some good things.”
Just as Oberlin was about to take a 21-14 lead, Townsel lost the ball on the 3-yard line and Brookside recovered in the end zone. But Mattayo Wyman recovered a fumble for the Phoenix three plays later that set up Oberlin’s scoring drive, capped by Townsel’s 1-yard touchdown run.
“I lost the ball, and then my team pulled me back together,” Townsel said. “The whole team came through and my coaching staff is magnificent. They kept my head in it and I respect them for that.”
Morgan led Brookside with 123 yards, and Chad Metcalf added 87. Of their 210 yards, 150 came on three plays: the aforementioned 67-yard score, Morgan’s 33-yard score late in the fourth quarter and Metcalf’s 50-yard run to the 1-yard line as time expired in the first half. It could have tied the game at 21 going into the locker room on a play designed to simply run out the clock.
Then instead of receiving the ball to start the second half, Brookside fumbled the kickoff and Oberlin scored six plays later on Jason Moore’s 1-yard run. Townsel accounted for the other 31 yards on the drive.
“Our team finally played well tonight,” Brookside coach Thom Lesiecki said. “Not getting that touchdown before the half and then that fumble to start the second half were killers for us tonight. It just put us down by too many scores.”
Oberlin forced a quick punt and promptly scored again, fueled by Townsel’s longest run of the night (40 yards) with a horse-collar penalty tacked on the end. Moore finished the drive with a 14-yard touchdown run.
“We need to improve our attitude and our mind right,” Townsel said. “If we get our attitude the way we had it the first few games, we’re going to be unstoppable.”
WELCOME BACK: Not only is Oberlin undefeated, but it could be getting stronger. The Phoenix welcomed back 6-foot-3, 175-pound receiver Marcus Bailey. He suffered a quad injury in the summertime and was out for six weeks, missing the first three games. Howery dialed up a deep ball for Bailey on the first play of the game, but Moore couldn’t connect with the receiver. Bailey did not have a catch, but should figure to be a focal point in the offense going forward. “We have two receivers we can go to at any time now,” Howery said.