Brother Rice's running back #28 Brian Walker breaks off a 38 yard run while being chased by Orchard Lake St. Mary's #1 Jalen Watts-Jackson during their game at Orchard Lake St. Mary's, Friday October 4, 2013. (Oakland Press Photo:Vaughn Gurganian)
FOOTBALL: Brother Rice gets first ever win at St. Mary's WITH TOUT VIDEOS
Orchard Lake St. Mary's running back #5 Mark Zanders breaks a shirt tackle by Brother Rice's #20 Navin Abro for extra yardage during their game at Orchard Lake St. Mary's, Friday October 4, 2013. (Oakland Press Photo:Vaughn Gurganian)
Brother Rice's tight end #88 Ty Kiafoulis is stripped of the ball after a short pass reception by Orchard Lake St. Mary's #2 LaMon Mathison which was recovered by #1 Jalen Watts-Jackson who ran it back for a touchdown giving them a 7-0 lead during their game at Orchard Lake St. Mary's, Friday October 4, 2013. (Oakland Press Photo:Vaughn Gurganian)
Brother Rice head football coach Al Fracassa and Joyce Popson, wife of former Brother Rice athletic director Mike Popson, with the trophy named in Fracassa's honor, to be given to the winner of the Orchard Lake St. Mary's-Brother Rice football game during a ceremony before their game at Orchard Lake St. Mary's, Friday October 4, 2013. (Oakland Press Photo:Vaughn Gurganian)
ORCHARD LAKE — Birmingham Brother Rice head coach Al Fracassa got to partake in two different trophy ceremonies with the same trophy on Friday.
Before his team’s annual showdown against Catholic League Central Division rival Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, the retiring Fracassa was honored by St. Mary’s in an on-field ceremony, where a trophy named after Fracassa that will be contested each year by the Warriors and Eaglets was presented to him.
Then after the game, Fracassa and Brother Rice got to take the inaugural Albert Fracassa trophy on its bus home and back to its school halls for the next year following a 31-14 win over St. Mary’s.
Not only did Brother Rice win the trophy named after Fracassa in his only chance to win it, but the Warriors finally ended years of frustration by winning at St. Mary’s for the first time ever.
“It’s huge,” Brother Rice senior Jason Alessi said. “Going into the game, we knew we could be the first team ever to win here at St. Mary’s. That was in the back of our heads. Being it was Coach Fracassa’s last game here too, we wanted to make sure he went out on a good note.”
CLICK HERE TO VIEW A PHOTO GALLERY FROM THIS GAME.
Brother Rice looked lethargic against a fired-up St. Mary’s team for most of the first half, but after scoring a late touchdown in the first half that caused it to be a 7-7 game at halftime, the Warriors took charge from there.
Alessi drilled a short field goal with 4:39 remaining in the third quarter to give Brother Rice a 10-7 lead, and then after Alessi returned a punt to the St. Mary’s 35-yard line, Brother Rice senior running back Brian Walker broke through several missed tackles and scored on a 35-yard touchdown run to put Brother Rice ahead 17-7 with 55 seconds left in the third.
Just 50 seconds later, Alessi made it 24-7 when he returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown just before the third quarter ended.
St. Mary’s managed to score with 8:14 remaining in the game on a 34-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Evan Henry to senior Jalen Watts-Jackson, but Brother Rice quelled any hopes of a rally by mounting a 10-play, 63-yard drive that was capped off by a 5-yard touchdown run by senior running back Shon Powell.
That score gave a Brother Rice a 31-14 lead with 3:13 left to all but slam the door on St. Mary’s.
“It’s a great feeling,” Fracassa said. “We’ll keep the trophy for one year and then they’ll play for it again next year. I won’t be on the sidelines but it will go to the team that wins.”
St. Mary’s opened the scoring with 7:19 left in the first when Watts-Jackson stripped Brother Rice receiver Ty Kiafoulis of the ball after a reception and then ran it back 57 yards for a touchdown.
Brother Rice then tied the game with 1:44 left in the first half on a 15-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Alex Malzone to junior wideout Grant Perry.
Walker ran for 95 yards on 16 carries and Perry had five receptions for 83 yards to lead the Warriors (6-0, 3-0).
Brother Rice outgained St. Mary’s, 314-184, and if St. Mary’s (3-3, 1-2) is going to eventually qualify for the postseason, it is going to have to get its offense straightened out.
St. Mary’s only scored one offensive touchdown against Brother Rice after being shutout last week at home against Warren De La Salle.
“We’ve got to get a little bit better at every position,” St. Mary’s head coach George Porritt said. “It’s not one thing. The offensive line has got to get better blocking, the quarterback play has to get better and so do running backs.”
BIRMINGHAM BROTHER RICE 31, ORCHARD LAKE ST. MARY’S 14
BR 0 7 17 7 — 31
SM 7 0 0 7 — 14
SM — Jalen Watts-Jackson 57 fumble return (Spencer Hurst kick)
BR — Grant Perry 15 pass from Alex Malzone (Jason Alessi kick)
BR — Alessi 22 fg
BR — Brian Walker 35 run (Alessi kick)
BR — Alessi 34 interception return (Alessi kick)
SM — Watts-Jackson 34 pass from Evan Henry (Hurst kick)
BR — Shon Powell 5 run (Alessi kick)
RECORDS — Brother Rice 6-0, 3-0 CHSL Central; St. Mary’s 3-3, 1-2