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Brother Rice rolls past Groves, into regional final

Football   | Jeff Dullack

Brother Rice rolls past Groves, into regional final

Berkley – On Saturday afternoon, the first 20 seconds of its game against Birmingham Groves couldn’t have gone much worse for Birmingham Brother Rice.

However, the following 23 minutes could have gone much better for the three time defending Division 2 state champions.

After Groves jumped out to a 7-0 lead after an interception on the first play of the game and shortly after scored a touchdown on a touchdown pass from Zach Van Faussien to Drew Sheckell, the

Warriors went on to score 49 unanswered first half points on their way to a convincing 49-7 win in the district final.

With the win, Brother Rice now advances to the regional final, where it will face a familiar foe in Warren De La Salle, which topped East English Village Prep on Friday night.

Brother Rice coach Dave Sofran said he was upset with how the game started, but was pleased with the way his team responded, starting with a big play between quarterback Alex Malzone to receiver Grant Perry, which set up a Brandon Adams touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7 on the second drive of the game.

“I was a little frustrated,” he said. “We didn’t play like I think we could have early on, but after Grant (Perry) ran for 70 yards after, I started to feel a little better.”

From there on out, Brother Rice was dominant as the Warriors went on to score on each of their next six drives.

The Warriors took their first lead of the game with 6:13 left to play in the first quarter when John Garry hauled in an eight yard pass to give Rice a 14-7 lead and less than three minutes later, Brother Rice pushed its lead to 21-7 on a three yard touchdown pass from Malzone to Brian Fortin.

Brother Rice would take a 28-7 lead at the end of the first quarter when Malzone and Perry connected for a 22 yard score with 1:03 left and the duo would connect for a 19 yard score less than three minutes into the second quarter to make it 35-7.

Malzone finished the day throwing for 209 yards and six touchdowns, while Perry had 112 yards receiving and two scores of his own as both played just one half of the game.

Perry said the first play of the game, the Brother Rice offense wasn’t clicking yet, but after the Groves interception, he and his teammates knew they needed to get going, which is exactly what they did.

“We weren’t on the same page on the first play,” he said. “But we weren’t nervous, we just knew we had to get it going.”

Malzone then tacked on his final two touchdown passes of the day, the first going to Matthew Jordan from 16 yards out with 5:32 left before halftime and the final touchdown pass of the day to Michael Roney from 50 yards away to put the Warriors up 49-7 as the two teams went to halftime.

“They (Brother Rice) are pretty good and I don’t think we played our best football,” Groves coach Brendan Flaherty said. “I don’t think we played very well in the first half, don’t take anything away from them, they’re really really good, but when we play below average football with the way that we can play against a super team, it’s tough.”