Oliver, LaBrae win AAC Blue, beat Brookfield
LEAVITTSBURG — LaBrae senior running back Arjay Oliver provided the spark the Vikings needed in their 20-14 victory over Brookfield Friday at Vikings Stadium.
The win gives LaBrae the All-American Conference Blue Tier championship and puts the Vikings in control of their destiny in the race for the Division V, Region 17 playoffs, according to joeeitel.com. They are currently second in the region.
“We fought hard all through the whole year, even the offseason,” Oliver said. “We owed (Brookfield) one for last season. This was our playoff game. If we won, we were in. That’s what we thought the whole game. We were going to go out and get it done, regardless.”
With the Vikings trailing by a touchdown just past the midpoint of the third quarter, Oliver hit a hole and was gone for a 20-yard touchdown scamper to draw LaBrae (6-2, 5-0 AAC Blue) even, 14-14, with 5:10 remaining in the period.
“I saw my blockers,” Oliver said. “It was all of them — the whole game. They fought for me so I told them I would fight for them. If they work as hard as they do, I can’t give credit to anyone but them. They did what they were taught to do.”
“Arjay is one of senior leaders and a guy we rely on,” LaBrae coach John Armeni said. “He makes big plays when it matters most. That’s exactly what he did. He did it one of our biggest games.”
Carlton Brown scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 2-yard plunge to put the Vikings up, 20-14, after the PAT was blocked with 11:53 remaining in the game to complete a complete change of fortune from where things stood at the half.
“At the half, it was like deja vu to a few weeks ago at Lakeview,” Armeni said. “The guys have grown into men. They challenged themselves. I had to say very little. They wanted the title and they wanted to play in Week 11. All they did was fight to the very last second.”
Brookfield (5-3, 2-2) mounted a late charge, but the drive stalled at the LaBrae 12 with just more than 2 minutes left.
“I don’t know if the halves were different,” Brookfield coach Randy Clark said. “We let too many opportunities go in the red zone. We thought we should’ve had 21 if not 28 points at the half. I don’t think it was a difference in the halves.
“(LaBrae) made big plays and we couldn’t get in the end zone.”
The Warriors controlled the first half in rushing for 122 yards. They finished with 243 yards on 47 attempts.
“We moved the ball between the 20s, but we couldn’t capitalize inside the 20s,” Clark said. “The fumble (inside the LaBrae 10) killed us in the first half. We had a lot of opportunities. We just threw them away.”
“We thought our scheme was good and it would work against them, but it didn’t Armeni said. “Give credit where credit is due. Coach Clark is a great coach. They have good running backs and their line was moving us out of the way. We didn’t make the plays.”
Brown connected with Tariq Drake for a 40-yard score to put the Vikings up, 7-0, with 9:18 to play in the first quarter. He finished with 193 yards through the air.
Alex Clark answered just more than two minutes later when he scored on a 29-yard run to even up the scoreboard, 7-7, with 7:13 left in the opening period. Xavier Bailey scored from the one to make it 14-7 with 8:54 left in the first half.
Brookfield is now on the outside of the Division VI, Region 21 playoff picture and looking in. The Warriors currently stand 11th.
“We’re 5-3,” Clark said. “We’re going to regroup and get ready Campbell. We’ve got look ahead to Campbell now. It’s not over. There are still two games left. We’ve got to get busy and we’ve got to get back to work.”
Alex Clark neted 110 yards on 14 carries and Bailey added 103 yards on 23 attempts for the Warriors while Oliver had 61 yards on 10 carries for LaBrae.