Simply put, the Brookfield Bulldogs' football team ran into an undefeated Monroe City team that was as-advertised on Friday evening. Brookfield fell to 2-4 with a 36-14 loss, but the week six road defeat was far from discouraging for the Bulldog faithful.
Brookfield's first half signaled the tremendous progress the 'Dogs have made since the season began five weeks ago. After starting the game with a three-and-out, the Bulldogs' special teams showed out when quarterback Castor Dodd pinned Monroe's Panthers within their own five yard line. Brookfield then forced a three-and-out of its own, and with the next possession beginning at Monroe's 40, the Bulldogs dominated the field position battle for much of the first quarter.
"We did a great job of running the football early on," Brookfield coach Scott Stevens said. "That was our goal, and limiting them on the possessions they got. We knew these guys were a great team offensively, and that showed. They punted the ball only once. They didn't have more than a few big plays, they just had four-, five-yard runs. We did well on most of our drives, and only went three-and-out once."
Save for a first quarter 46-yard touchdown rush out of the wing-T set by talented Monroe City feature fullback Cole Pennewell, the 'Dogs stood their ground and, by and large, controlled the trenches. Brookfield's Khalil Walker scored from 20 yards out with 9:24 remaining in the second, and the Bulldogs converted at the extra point. At 7-6, Brookfield handed Monroe City its only deficit since the first week of the season in Clark County.
With time dwindling in the first half, the Bulldogs managed to storm the football deep into Monroe City territory before falling short and failing to convert a fourth down with just seconds remaining in the half.
Brookfield returned to the visitors' locker room after 24 minutes of play trailing 14-7.
On the first drive of the second half, the Panthers stormed down field and Pennewell scored from a few yards out for his third touchdown of the game. Six minutes later, Monroe City extended its lead to three touchdowns, this time on the legs of Zacharee Osborn from 30 yards out.
With 1:49 remaining in the third quarter, the Bulldogs capped a healthy drive with a 10-yard Dodd touchdown rush, bringing Brookfield back within a pair of scores, although the 'Dogs would be unable to alter the scoreboard in their favor for the remainder of the evening.
The Panthers' final touchdown was a 20-yard rush into the east endzone on the third quarter's first play from scrimmage. From then on, Monroe City was content to kill clock.
"They came out and played physical," Monroe City coach David Kirby said. "We've seen what they run, and tonight they ran behind some of their big dudes. Tonight was kind of like a good boxing match, they got a good punch in there. Hats off to Coach Stevens and those guys, they work (darn) hard, and they play physical."
Coach Kirby did not say "darn."
Monroe City's powerful, intricate offense racked up numbers once again on Friday night, finishing with 435 total yards from scrimmage to Brookfield's 237. Dodd was 7-of-15 slinging the rock for 49 yards. Tanner Wallace was Dodd's preferred target, finishing with five catches for 43 yards.
Walker finished the night with 70 yards on 13 carries, and Tim Izard had similar success rushing the ball, finishing with 12 carries for 71 yards.
The Bulldogs had 11 first downs on Friday night -- their second-most times they have moved the chains this season.
"We're starting to find our identity on offense, and we're beginning to realize what it takes to be a physical football team," Stevens said. "I think every week, on both sides of the football, we're improving a great amount. Despite the score against this team, that showed tonight."
The Bulldogs' game next Friday is versus a .500 Macon team at Burlington Field.