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Staff photo / R. Michael Semple

Aiden Stephens (11) of LaBrae looks to get outside of Brookfield defender Codi Hoover (22) during the Vikings’ 55-54 win over the Warriors Saturday night in their Division VI playoff game at Brookfield.

BROOKFIELD — It’s one thing to say things have changed. It’s a whole different story when you go out on the field and prove it.

It was a whole different story indeed Saturday night in Brookfield, when LaBrae took on the Warriors in the second round of the Division VI, Region 21 playoffs.

Brookfield clobbered the Vikings, 35-7, in week two of the regular season. The Vikings got their revenge by nipping the Warriors, 55-54, in an all-time classic.

“We’ve done a lot of growing up since week two,” LaBrae coach John Armeni said. “Our guys are getting better every day. They’re more physical, they’re more confident in their abilities. We preached to them all week, ‘redemption.’ We wanted to show the county, our league, and our biggest league rival, Brookfield, exactly what we’re made of. We did a great job tonight.”

Both teams did a great job on offense as one touchdown after another went up on the scoreboard. The Vikings scored on their first three possessions and led, 21-7, at the end of the first quarter. However, the game came down to a 2-point conversion attempt by Brookfield with 11 seconds left in regulation.

Staff photo / R. Michael Semple

Brookfield’s Haden Gibson, right, finds running room and rushes to the end zone as LaBrae’s Adam Bettry pursues Saturday in Brookfield.

After LaBrae junior Tre’von Drake hauled in a 42-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Aidan Stephens, the Vikings were up, 55-48, with just over two minutes left in the fourth. The Warriors drove the field, led by senior quarterback Haden Gibson.

On fourth-and-1, Gibson picked up a first down, by an inch, after a measurement. Then, on third-and-3 from the 3-yard line, a leaping Gibson scored as he landed in the end zone over defenders. Brookfield decided to go for two instead of the extra point to tie it up.

On the two-point try, Gibson rolled out to his right but couldn’t find anyone open. The defense forced him out of bounds, and the LaBrae fans erupted in celebration.

Stephens scored on a 5-yard run to begin the game. LaBrae’s all-time leading rusher, junior Devin Carter, rumbled in from 39 yards out to make it 14-0, Vikings. One minute later, Brookfield junior Teandre Craig ran it in for a 26-yard touchdown. Stephens used his speed to get to the outside and score on a 12-yard run. Craig was crushed by Viking senior Anthony Harris and the Warriors had to punt.

Brookfield got the ball back, and Gibson scored on a 4-yard quarterback keeper. The Vikings were up, 21-14, early in the second. Brookfield has had trouble on its kickoff coverage and Saturday was no exception.

Staff photo / R. Michael Semple

Devin Carter of LaBrae rushes for yardage as Brookfield’s Brett Carsone (4) pursues.

They tried an onside kick, but LaBrae freshman Stephen Hemberger picked it up and ran it all the way to the 5-yard line. Stephens walked it in to put the Vikings up 27-14.

Gibson showed incredible speed as he scored from 66 yards away to make it 27-20. Brookfield junior David Pawlowski had a big time tackle for a 4-yard loss and the Vikings had to punt. Craig and Gibson pushed the ball down the field and tied it up at 27-27.

Drake returned the ensuing kick 88 yards for a touchdown. The Vikings were up, 34-27, at halftime.

Brookfield sophomore Isaiah Jones caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Gibson to start the third. Drake scooped the ball off the ground and went the distance again. This time, for an 85-yard kickoff return score.

Gibson had two more touchdown runs as it seemed, from the beginning, the last team with the ball would walk out victorious.

LaBrae now travels to Wickliffe for its third-round contest.

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