Bruin Defense Hunts Down Warriors

Branham Bruins entering Westmont territory on first down. Photo courtesy of Monica Randhawa.

By Nick Randhawa

The Branham Bruins upset the Westmont Warriors atWestmonton Friday, November 4 behind a complete defensive effort to win 13-8.

Branham senior quarterback and team captain Tommy McMahon was back in the line-up despite playing on a broken wrist, but the Bruin defense took a lot of pressure off him and the offense by dominating the Warriors’ offense.

From the opening kickoff, Branham felt they were destined for a win on this cold, windy night which saw temperatures in the low 50s. Branham’s senior kicker Nicholas Silva kicked off the ball toWestmont’s 20 yard line. The ball was taken up the middle when a swarm of Bruin tacklers met the ball carrier at the 37 yard line. The team’s leading tackler, senior Darnell Sankey, managed to deliver a solid hit which popped the ball loose. Branham recovered the fumble.

With just one minute on the clock, quarterback Tommy McMahon found senior Abey Bezabeh wide open down the sideline, and hit him with a perfect pass for a 37 yard touchdown on Branham’s first offensive play of the night.

Later in the quarter, Nicholas Silva kicked a 33 yard field goal to give Branham a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

With 5:10 remaining in the second quarter,Westmont finally found the end zone. Senior half back Ian Harvel ran in the ball from seven yards out.Westmont went for the two-point conversion after the touchdown to pull the score to 10-8.

Westmont took a risk by going for a surprise onside kick during the ensuing kickoff. The Warriors caught Branham off guard and were able to recover the football.

Westmont’s offense worked the ball down inside Branham territory behind the quick speed of Ian Harvel. Branham had a tough time stopping Harvel, who was averaging 124 yards per game heading into the contest. Branham gave up 106 to Harvel, but were happy with the effort because they stopped him when it mattered.

Inside the 10 yard line with under two minutes to play, Braham managed to shut Harvel down and forced Westmont to kick a field goal with 32 seconds remaining in the half.

On the field goal, Senior Jacob Chapman managed to get a great burst off the line and blocked the field goal, sending Branham into the half up 10-8.

Branham started the second half with the ball and put together an impressive drive which lasted 5 minutes and 21 seconds. The Bruins got a huge 45 yard run out of senior Asa Archibald on the drive who had a great game with 61 yards on just four carries. Archibald’s run set up a 26 yard field goal by Nicholas Silva who was a perfect 2-2 on the night. Branham ended the quarter leading 13-8.

The game was set up for an anxious fourth quarter, and the play lived up to the expectations. Darnell Sankey lead the team with 18 tackles and had a huge tackle with 4 minutes 12 seconds left in the game. Sankey chased down the scrambling Westmont Quarterback, 6’8” senior Nicky Wahl, on fourth down with seven yards to go to get the ball back for the Bruin offense. Unfortunately, Branham was forced to punt on their ensuing possession, which gave the defense another chance to shine in their best defensive effort of the season.

Westmont was forced to move away from their dominant rushing attack with time winding down and half the field to cover. Nicky Wahl threw deep down the sideline with one minute and seven seconds left in the game but under threw his receiver. Junior cornerback Darren Brown made a quick adjustment in direction and jumped up to intercept the pass. The interception sealed the game for Branham’s second win of the year.

Branham’s leading tackler, Darnell Sankey, now has 141 tackles through nine games and leads the Central Coast Section (CCS) in tackles. Abey Bezabeh finished the game with two catches for 55 yards. Junior defensive lineman Travis Mabry had two sacks on the night. Senior safety Steven Jani had an interception and added six tackles on defense. Senior linebacker Trevor Carter also had a great game with a fumble recovery and eight tackles. As a team, the Bruins forced four turnovers againstWestmontand blocked a kick in their best defensive performance of the year. 

Branham’s record improved to 2-7 with the win, and Westmont’s record dropped to 5-4. Westmont was also knocked out of CCS playoff contention with the loss. Branham will play Andrew Hill (2-7) Thursday night for Senior Night and the last home game of the season on Friday, November 11 at 7:00pm.