As I was leaving Brentwood’s football field Friday, September 19, I heard a group of spectators remark that the game had been a thriller.
When I spoke to Coach Patrick Brown two days later he said the same words.
And I agreed.
The outcome wasn’t decided until Charlie James kicked a 37-yard field goal on the final play, giving Brentwood a 28-26 non-league victory over Rio Hondo Prep.
It was an entertaining offensive duel between a pair of quality teams and the visitors tested the Eagles’ defense as few opponents have in recent years.
Even after Brentwood went ahead 25-19 on Josh Amster’s 65-yard interception return with less than three minutes to play, Rio Hondo Prep drove to a touchdown for a 26-25 lead.
But the Eagles went on the winning drive, getting closer and closer but electing to run the clock down when they reached the 17.
Brentwood called time out when the clock showed 3.2 seconds to play.
“Charlie is reliable and we decided to leave it to him,” said Brown.
James, a tight end who had already made several key plays, booted the kick through. A week earlier, in Brentwood’s season opening win over St. Anthony, he had made a 40-yard field goal.
Brown had plenty of praise for the opponent.
“Their blocking was outstanding,” he said. “Even their receivers blocked well. We’re pretty young. We have only two seniors on defense and that team gave us a pounding. We knew they were good. We expected a tough game.”
But Brentwood had plenty of highlights too, including an 87-yard touchdown pass from Amster to Alex Kelln and a 47-yard touchdown pass to Greg Oliva.
At halftime, Rio Hondo Prep had gained 307 yards but was behind.
“There were times when I wondered if either team would get through the game,” said Brown. “Because of the defense they were playing, which was designed to stop Amster’s running, we went to long passes.
“Our receivers were running 30 and 40 yards on every play and their defensive backs were running with them.”
James caught six passes and Kelln caught four.
Charlie Quintera’s 20-yard interception return gave Rio Hondo Prep a 6-0 lead to begin the scoring.
An Amster touchdown pass to James put Brentwood ahead, 7-6 but a 48-yard score put Rio Hondo Prep ahead 13-6 before the 87-yard pass to Kelln gave Brentwood the 14-13 halftime lead.
In the third quarter James kicked a 32-yard field goal for a 17-13 lead, but the visitors went back ahead, 19-17, setting up the dramatic fourth quarter.
The game required nearly three hours.
Brentwood will try to remain unbeaten when it plays at St. Bernard Friday night, September 26. Last week St. Bernard lost to Village Christian, 20-14.