Brown Deer football coach Rob Green admits that he does hold his breath a little bit every time physical quarterback Drew Worth lowers his shoulder and delivers a hit when he's off on an option run.
But Green does admit that Worth's kind of aggressive, physical attitude does have a positive effect on his offensive linemen.
"He accelerates the line play everytime he goes out there," said Green, "and when we put in our running package with 'Z' (linebacker/running back Zack Rhodes) the O-line gets very happy, because they hate pass-blocking all the time (laughs)."
Worth did both effectively Friday night at Brown Deer's homecoming game, as he completed seven of 16 passes for three touchdowns and 168 yards and he also rushed for 125 yards on 20 carries and two scores, as the Falcons moved into a share of the lead in the Woodland Conference East Dvision with a 34-13 victory over Whitnall.
How tough was Worth?
When nursing a 26-13 late in the third quarter, Worth took off on a scramble to the left side only to be sandwiched in a tremendous collision along the Whitnall sideline.
He was down for awhile but got up and ran off the field on his own power.
Worth was out about three plays and then returned with a vengenance, racing 21 yards for a critical first down and then speeding up the middle untouched for an eight-yard score on the first play of the fourth quarter to clinch the victory.
Just for fun, a little later as the Falcons were trying to kill time, he broke off a 44-yard sideline that had Brown Deer fans chanting "He's our quarterback, he's our quarterback!"
"It didn't feel too bad," said Worth of the hit, "It just knocked the wind out of me. I know I definitely have a linebacker's mentality when I go out there (running)."
With the win, Brown Deer improved to 4-2 overall and 3-1 in divisional play. Whitnall (3-1, 4-2) had been unbeaten in divisional play going into the game.
The win was huge for the Falcons in another way, as it is their last home game of the regular season, with tough road contests coming up at Greenfield and Greendale to close out there league slate.
"It's not going to get easier," said Rhodes, who added 54 yards on seven carries as well as delivering several bone-crunching hits, "but it will help our focus. We need to keep our foot on the pedal until we get the (divisional) lead all by ourselves."
And this game wasn't neccsarily easy either though Brown Deer tried to make it that way in the beginning, as Worth hit All-world end and defensive back Tray Palmer on a deep sideline route for 65 yards and a touchdown on the game's second play.
"It's the greatest feeling in the world having a player like him out there," said Worth. "I'd throw it up to him everytime if I could."
Then a series later, linebacker Cal Howard recovered a bad pitchout on the Whitnall 24, five plays later, Worth hit senior end Bryan Gordon for a 17-yard TD pass. Gordon made a nice diving catch in the front corner of the end zone for a 13-0 lead.
But Whitnall hadn't picked up the league lead by accidcent, as quarterback Zach Sutton completed five passes on the next series and then ran the final 18 yards on a tough-minded quarterback draw of his own to close the gap to 13-6 with 3:15 left in the first quarter.
Three series later, things got even more harrowing for the Falcons, as Worth was sacked and fumbled, giving Whitnall the ball on the Brown Deer 12. Two plays later, Sutton hit end Sam Mentkowski with a 12-yard TD pass to tie the score at 13-all with 8:13 left in the half.
But Worth and the Falcons would have an answer for that, as they pounded the ball down the field 57 yards, not including a holding penalty. before Worth plowed up the middle for the first of his two TDs on a two-yard run with 4:22 left in the half to make it 20-13 Brown Deer.
The key play was an impossible 30-yard sideline grab by Palmer over the top of two defenders that bailed Brown Deer out of a third and 18 situation. Palmer, a returning All-Suburban selection who caught four balls for 129 yards on the night and who also snagged an interception, feels every ball that is tossed his way should be caught no matter what the circumstances.
"Every time it goes up," he said.
That was especially true on Brown Deer's final sequence of the half. Palmer gave them great field position at the Whitnall 30, but the Falcons proceeded to move themselves backward with both a block in the back and a holding penalty.
No matter, with 27 seconds left, Worth, under pressure launched a Hail Mary from the 17 yard line towards the far left corner in the end zone. Palmer answered the prayer, somehow snagged it and dragged his feet inbounds for a killer score that made it 26-13 at the break.
"We wanted to go into the half with some big time momentum and I think that gave it to us," Palmer said.
"It was important that we answer their short field touchdown," said Green. "It was part of the energy the seniors brought all week. They were on a mission and they really wanted to keep it going."
"We wanted to get at least one score score there, but to get two was frosting on the cake."
After that, the Falcon defense took over and allowed only 102 yards, most of those coming on a last-second futile drive by Whitnall that was stalled on the Falcon five-yard line, when Sutton's last-ditch pas into the end zone was harmlessly knocked down.
And after the Brown Deer seniors, which include Worth, Palmer and Rhodes, came out for homecoming pictures on the field, Worth reflected on how important this game was.
"This feels great," he said. "This is the position (a tie for first) that we feel we should have been all season. It's huge for our momentum."
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