WELLSBURG - A week after Brooke earned its first victory, the Bruins came into a senior night matchup with University feeling confident.
Following a half where Brooke trailed the Hawks by only six points at 20-14, the players' confidence felt justified.
''Going into halftime down six, not that you want to be losing at halftime, but that's not a terrible place to be,'' Bruins coach Sean Blumette said.
After that, though, the Bruins lost their swag as University (3-0) outscored Brooke 24-7 in the second half en route to a 44-21 victory.
''Both weeks now we've come out flat at the half,'' Blumette said. ''We've got to find a solution for that. Our third quarters are really hurting us. Right now, we're looking for what that answer could be to improve that."
The Bruins, despite letting University's Jack Armstrong return the opening kickoff 92 yards for a score, played with poise in the first quarter as their defense recovered a fumble to set up its offense at the Hawks' 20-yard line. Two plays later, Nick Ossman found the end zone on a 13-yard rush to give the Bruins a 7-6 lead.
Then, after allowing University to retake the lead on a Travis Renner 12-yard toss to Armstrong, Brooke evened the score when Justin Loughrie broke loose for a 26-yard score.
''We came out in the first half and we had that let down right off the bat with that kickoff, but we battled back,'' Blumette said. ''That's one thing these guys have shown. Last week and this week, we've faced a little adversity, but we're OK.''
In the third quarter, that adversity was a little harder to overcome for the Bruins as they fumbled on the opening drive, which resulted in a Isaiah Utt 2-yard score for University.
After a Brooke three-and-out, it only took the Hawks two plays to find the end zone again as Armstrong ripped off a 50-yard run.
''At halftime, we made an adjustment,'' Hawks coach John Kelley said. ''I realized that we have a ''kick play'' that would start working. Kids were saying (Brooke) was calling out our plays, but I told them it didn't matter because they weren't stopping us. They knew we ran the zone and the midline pretty good and they were handling that, but we had a kick play that really started to hurt them. Right before the half, we realized we could get to the edge with them and get them with the long runs.''
He's right. Brooke did know what was the Hawks liked to do.
''We had them scouted,'' Blumette said. ''We knew what was coming. There were times we just didn't get the job done. We missed tackles, blown assignments. But for the most part, offensively and deffensively, we knew what we wanted to do and had to do ... we just need to put ourselves in a better position mentally so we don't have to overcome some of our mistakes.
''There's no doubt we've improved. We're better than what we showed in Week 1. We came in last week and played pretty well. Again, three out of four quarters, I thought we played pretty solid. That drop off in the third quarter, we couldn't get anything moving on either side of the ball. You just can't afford to play three quarters of a game. If you open the door for a good team like coach Kelley has, they're going to take advantage. When we made mistakes, they made us pay.''