The Brookfield faithful had an eerie feeling of deja-vu on Friday night.
Palmyra came to town to open the season and dumped the Bulldogs, 7-6: the same score as last season's opener in Palmyra.
"If you look at it, I think we had five redzone opportunities in that first half, and not being able to convert will get you beat," Brookfield head coach Scott Stevens said. "What's nice is that we can fix that moving forward. In the flexbone, it's really hard to come back when you have third-and-long situations."
The first half was mired with early-season mistakes, including five combined turnovers and ample penalties costing the 'Dogs. Brookfield was inside Palmyra's 10-yard line twice, and failed to walk away with any points as the game went scoreless into the halftime break.
Junior Dawson Baker had a 10-yard touchdown rush called back on a holding call in the second quarter, and the Bulldogs wouldn't find paydirt until the late third quarter.
Gabe Rodriguez, also responsible for a pair of interceptions, punched in a seven-yard touchdown ruch to conclude a 71-yard touchdown drive with 4:24 remaining in the third. Earlier in the drive, Bryson Collier reeled in a 21-yard pass from Carsen Beckman to get the Bulldogs down to the eight.
Characteriscally, Brookfield missed the extra point.
Palmyra scored on the following drive and did no such thing.
Panther workhorse Dakota Compton punched in a six-yarder to cap off a 71-yard drive, and the visitors nailed the point after.
Palmyra head coach Kevin Miles said that the Bulldogs made his side look like a week-one teams at times, and that Brookfield's unit could, on any given play, could have flipped the script.
"I think we missed some blocks on linebackers, and we couldn't settle in and do a good job against their linebackers," Miles said. "We gave them a short field, and they smashed it down their throat, and they sure did a better job than our defensive line did. We were just able to make a few more plays, and they'll continue to have success. There are no off-weeks in the Clarence Cannon."
From that point on, Brookfield struggled to give itself scoring opportunities, including losing a fumble with less than six minutes remaining in Palmyra territory.
After the Bulldogs coughed it up, they were unable to get a stop in the final six-plus minutes of the game, resulting in their week-one demise.
"We had to get a stop, and we couldn't do that," Stevens said. "They ran downhill all evening.
"This is a game that should hurt, but this is a group of guys that is going to improve, and we'll be there every Friday."
Brookfield has a chance to redeem another early-season loss from 2018 against Monroe City at their place on Friday.
Although Monroe City lost some pieces from last's season's team, the Panthers still have a physical specimen of which the Bulldogs must be wary.
Characterstically, Monroe City has a brute force at linebacker and fullback out of their wing-T, despite being routed 35-6 by Centralia last week.
Any way you cut it, Brookfield's week-two matchup against Monroe City will be won or lost in the trenches.
"That's a group that doesn't have a lot of starting experience, but they're going to better week-to-week. Offensively, it all starts with their fullback, (Keenan) Batsell, and I'd argue that he might be the best player in our conference. He's a horse, he's big and fast, and he's a (very) good player.
"Defensively, they've shown some different things. We're thinking about attacking a 4-2, but we have to be ready for every possibility. I don't think a big, first-week loss to Centralia really means anything for a program like theirs."