Victorio Cruisin’ For the Bruins

The Brooke Bruins clinched their second consecutive West Virginia Class AAA playoff berth Friday night with a commanding 23-6 victory against a struggling Buckeye Local team at Brooke Memorial Stadium.

Senior Scott Victorio racked up 179 yards and scored two touchdowns to lead the way to the seventh victory in nine games. He, along with 17 other Brooke seniors, were honored prior to the game as the Bruins celebrated Senior Night.

“It was a breakout game for Scott,” Brooke coach Dave Reitter said. “It is good to see him get untracked. The kids blocked for him and he hit the holes.”

Reitter said following the game that a victory against Hurricane next Saturday in the season finale probably would give his Bruins home-field advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs.

Hurricane (7-2) beat Spring Valley 13-12 on Friday night.

Buckeye Local finished the season at 3-6.

The Panthers’ defense thwarted Brooke’s first drive when junior Danny Fetty picked off an Ethan Benham pass at the Beaver Local 1-yard line and returned it to the 18.

However, Benham stepped in front of a Bobby Spence pass a few minutes later after the Panthers had driven into Brooke territory at the 42.

Benham intercepted the ball at the Bruins’ 40 and raced all the way to the Buckeye Local 2 before being tackled by the last Panther, Spence.

Three plays later, Victorio scored his first touchdown on a quarterback draw out of the shotgun formation from the 4-yard line.

Slightly more than two-and-a-half minutes later, Victorio scored again, this time from the 1 on a tailback blast over left guard.

Jonathan Hood kicked a 36-yard field goal for the only second-quarter score of the game giving the Bruins a commanding 17-0 lead at the half.

“Buckeye Local played tough — they have been playing tough,” Reitter said. “I was afraid of what they could do.”

The Brooke defense, though, didn’t seem like it was afraid of anything the Panthers were doing.

Buckeye Local was held to 116 yards rushing and 68 passing –184 yards — but 66 of them came in the late fourth quarter drive that saw the Panthers score their only touchdown against the Brooke reserves with 26 second left in the game.

“I credit (offensive coordinator) Rich Thomaselli with making the decision just before the game to take it to them,” Reitter said. “He saw the weather forecast for rain so we decided to run right at them. Rich called a great game.”

Victorio’s running mate, hard-charging junior Joey Cassella, ran for 72 yards against the Panthers defense and three different Bruins quarterbacks connected on 7 of 11 passes for 87 yards. All told, the Bruins amassed 340 yards of offense.

Victorio’s rushing yardage gave him a total of 904 on 138 carries and he completed 3 of 4 passes, giving him 18 completions out of 25 passes for the season.

“We got a little sloppy there in the second half because of the rain and the ball got wet,” Reitter said. “That caused a few things to happen, but it didn’t hurt us.”

Reitter said starting quarterback Josh Frankos could have played in the game, but he wasn’t needed so the decision was made to hold him out for another week. Frankos injured his right shoulder when tackled in the University game on Oct. 5 and hasn’t seen action since.

The Bruins fumbled the ball four times, but Buckeye Local couldn’t come up with any of the loose balls. The only Bruins turnover was the first quarter interception by Fetty.

Brooke got the opening kickoff of the second half and put the ball in play at their own 35 after Bobby Supanik’s boot went out of bounds.

On the first play, Victorio ripped through the Panther defense for 41 yards to the Beaver Local 24. Four plays later, Victorio ran 6 yards to the Panthers 3, where a facemask penalty against Beaver Local put the ball at the 1.

Husky junior Mike Henderson got the call from there and plunged into the end zone. Hood lined up to kick the extra point, but the wet ball sailed over holder Drew Ferguson’s outstretched arms.

The game next week against Hurricane at Brooke Memorial Stadium has a 2 p.m. kickoff.