Against Brentwood Friday night, Independence showed why it is going to the playoffs this year and its opponent is not with a 37-13 win at Brentwood Senior night, wherein 21 of its seniors played their last game as a Bruin.
As these things go, skill and execution probably mattered just as much as luck and timing in determining who won and who lost this game, as they did with the two interceptions thrown by Brentwood quarterback Aaron Maher that created a 14-0 lead Indy built in the first quarter.
A foot to the left or right, a second later or earlier, and things may have gone differently. Multiply the unpredictability of luck and timing over a season, and Independence (7-3) might be the team packing it up until next year instead of Brentwood (3-7).
A 46-yard pass from quarterback Andrew Bunch (3-4, 67 yards, 2 TDs) to Rashaan Gaulden (4 catches, 78 yards, 1 TD) turned a Brentwood interception (picked by Vic Wharton III) into an Indy touchdown with just under 7 minutes in the first quarter, and then on the next possession Indy’s Adam Martin stole Maher’s pass and, taking out the middle-man (the offense), went 35-yard for a touchdown.
In the matter of a minute Indy went up two possessions.
Independence would add to that lead before halftime with a 24-yard repeat of the Bunch-to-Gaulden connection mentioned above, but only after Maher found Caleb Tyler for a Brentwood touchdown that drew them to within 7, which was as close as the Bruins would come to another win in 2013.
Halftime came and went with the score 21-7. In the third, however, Indy and its sometime enemy, sometime friend named luck would give Brentwood numerous chances to get back in the game that were not taken advantage of on this subdued Senior night-home game for Brentwood.
On back-to-back-to-back possessions in the third quarter Independence turned the ball over with lost fumbles from running back Brandon Murdick and Bunch, and an interception by fellow quarterback Caleb Hollis (8-16, 60 yards, 0 TD, 2 INTs).
Brentwood, however, failed to capitalize on this luck the way Independence did in the first quarter by producing off the three turnovers a safety, drives of 27-yards and 28-yards that sputtered out with two failed fourth down attempt.
In a bizarre happenstance, Independence actually increased its lead by committing a turnover: after recovering the Bunch fumble deep in Independence territory Brentwood had a punt blocked in its own end zone resulting in a safety and 2 points for Independence.
Too bad for Brentwood, whose 21 seniors played their last game for the Bruins included Maher and the receivers who caught both his TD passes on the night: the aforementioned Tyler and Andy Schumpert, who caught the last score of the game in the fourth quarter on an 18-yard pass from Maher to make the game a little closer.
But it was too little too late.