FAIRFIELD — For three and a half quarters Friday night the Lawrence High School football team struggled to find any momentum.

In the span of 12 seconds, it nearly spurned an improbable comeback.

The Bulldogs scored 13 points in that time frame midway through the fourth quarter to cut a 21-point deficit to a single possession, but could not draw any closer as Brunswick held on for a 32-16 Pine Tree Conference Class B victory at Keyes Field.

“We were hoping. We had a nice defensive effort to get the ball back and it worked out for us,” Lawrence coach John Hersom said. “We got the quick score right after and it was just they had a couple of plays where they were able to get down the field.

“We’re a young team and we’re starting to come together a little bit more. We hope that we’ll continue to do the things that we need to and be able to make the transition for next week and get the ‘W.'”

Brunswick — which had trouble moving the ball consistently on offense throughout the contest — appeared to have put the game away when running back Will Bessey hit a wide open Alan Molnar on a 46-yard touchdown pass with 7 minutes, 45 seconds remaining to put the Dragons ahead 24-3.

Lawrence — which had accumulated just 130 yards to that point — responded quickly, however, as three plays into the ensuing drive Braden Ballard connected with Walker Thomas on a pass 15 yards down field. Thomas shrugged off the initial defender then sprinted the remaining 45 yards down the left sideline for the 59-yard touchdown with 6:32 to play in the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs then caught a break, as the usually sure-handed Bessey fumbled on the opening play of the next drive and a Lawrence defender was in perfect position to scoop it up.

Ballard was flushed from the pocket and forced to scramble on the ensuing play, but still managed to find an open Thomas in the back, center of the end zone for Lawrence’s second touchdown in 12 seconds. The snap on the extra point was fumbled, though, making it 24-16 Dragons with 6:20 to play.

“My hats off to them for four quarters,” Brunswick coach Dan Cooper said. “They easily could have given up, but they made some plays and hung in there and had a chance.”

Lawrence gave itself a last chance when it managed to get the ball back after forcing a punt with 3:31 remaining, but ultimately could not complete the comeback. On the opening play of the Bulldogs’ drive Jesse Devereaux picked off Ballard, and five plays later Bessey ran it in from a yard away to seal the Dragons’ win.

“We’re still trying to work kids around,” Hersom said. “Not that we’re trying to ask too much of them, but we are rotating kids in and just trying to hopefully find that right formula for us to execute — especially on offense — and see if we can’t get ourselves where we’re not hurting ourselves or turning the ball over.”

Defensively, the Bulldogs played well for most of the night, particularly in the first half , and likely would have been even with the Dragons had it not been for a few miscues on special teams and offense.

“We didn’t do a whole lot offensively in the first half,” Cooper said. “We’ll take the points any way we can get them.”

After forcing a three-and-out on the opening possession of the game, the Dragons’ Ben Palizay received a punt at Brunswick’s 41-yard line, slipped out of an initial tackle and broke left into daylight to put the visitors ahead 7-0 just 1:36 into the game.

Bessey added to the Dragons advantage late in the opening quarter, picking off a Jarrett Hill pass and returning it – untouched – for a 42-yard touchdown. Thomas Hanson hit Corban Teel in the back of the end zone for the two-point conversion to make it 15-0 Brunswick with 4.6 seconds left in the first quarter.

A 22-yard field goal from Alex Larson made it 18-0 Brunswick with 5:16 to play in the opening half before Zoli Nagy answered with a field goal for the Bulldogs a little over four minutes later to cut the deficit to 18-3 at the half.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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