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Nebrich, Bruins Topple Robinson in Semi-Finals

Gutsy play from junior quarterback helps end 11-game losing streak to Rams.

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Lake Braddock receiver Brandon Johnson unsuccessfully stretches for a touchdown after catching a pass from Michael Nebrich during the Bruins' 38-7 victory. The ball ended up being placed at the one-yard line.

It only took one drive on offense and defense for the Lake Braddock football team to show a rowdy crowd of Robinson fans who owned Jack Coffey Stadium on Friday, Nov. 20 at Robinson Secondary School.

On the first drive of the Northern Region AAA Semi-finals, the Bruins stonewalled the Rams on fourth and two, halting running back Connor Riley's attempt for a first down.

After Robinson's failed fourth down conversion, Lake Braddock quarterback Michael Nebrich took the field and immediately turned the Rams' turnover into a 30-yard drive, capped by a 18-yard touchdown reception by wide receiver Brandon Johnson.

"The opening drives were just great for us," Nebrich said. "We really set the tone of the game with the defensive stop and the touchdown drive."

Following the touchdown, the Bruins never looked back, thrashing the Rams 38-7 -- a season high for points against the Robinson defense.

The Bruins win ends an 11-game losing streak to Robinson.

The opening drive wasn't the game’s only statement-making touchdown.

With 15 seconds to play in the third quarter, Nebrich ended Robinson's comeback hopes with a gusty series of quarterback sneaks for a 1-yard touchdown run.

"We knew coming into this game if we got the lead, we had to close out the game," Nebrich said. "We called a simple wedge play and [the third quarter touchdown] helped seal the game for us."

Nebrich threw for 210 yards in the game, had two rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown.

Nebrich's hard-nosed rushing touchdown proved to be the straw that broke the Rams' backs, sending the Bruins to the Northern Region finals and the disappointed Robinson faithful to the parking lots.

The junior quarterback's series of rushes earned high praise from Lake Braddock head coach Jim Poythress.

"[Nebrich] was the unanimous player of the year in the Patriot District this season, and I think he just solidified himself as player of the year in the Northern Region," Poythress said. "What he's done for us is just unbelievable."

While Nebrich's play stole the show, it was the Bruins defense that held on to the sizeable lead by stymieing Robinson's highly touted rushing attack.

"Our defense came to play," Lavery said. "We had a statement to make. We had respect to earn. We lost to them but we had to come back with a big win."

Robinson was held to a season low seven points by the Bruins defense and was unable to create gaps in the Lake Braddock defensive line for running backs Connor Riley and Jared Velasquez.

"It's so much stress on the defense to hold a lead," Poythress said. "We were lights-out on defense. We only gave up one play, other than that we were just lights-out."

Robinson defeated Lake Braddock during the regular season 28-21 on Oct. 2, but Nebrich said dishing out some revenge didn't cloud the Bruins' goal of advancing in the playoffs.

"We were relaxed," Nebrich said. "We came into this game wanting revenge, but we were able to stay poised and get the win.

Robinson head coach Mark Bendorf said the Bruins' motivation to avenge the regular season loss was one of the difference makers in the game.

"You have to give [Lake Braddock] credit," Bendorf said. "From a psychological stand point, they were highly motivated after losing the first game. But we had some penalties that put us in long yardage situations that got us off schedule."

As the final moments ticked off the clock, Lake Braddock supporters serenaded their team with a "We want Woodson," chant, begging for a chance to avenge a regular season loss to the No. 1 seeded Cavaliers.

The Bruins lost to Woodson 42-43 on Sept. 11 in a dramatic game that featured a questionable missed-call during a two-point conversion.

The Bruins and Cavaliers are the 2009 co-Patriot District Champions, but there won't be any sharing of the Northern Region title when they meet on Nov. 28.

"It's an all-Patriot District final," Poythress said. "It's a pretty good year for the Patriot District, but we're motivated for Woodson. Let's just say that."

Although the loss ends the Rams' season, Bendorf said he was proud of his team's 10-win season.

"We won 10 games and that's a lot to be proud of," Bendorf said. "We're 1-1 against [Lake Braddock], I just wish we came out with the better result."

Although the Rams will lose its 1,000-plus yard running back Connor Riley to graduation, junior Jared Velasquez remains to help lead the team's rushing attack. However, filling Riley's gap won't be easy.

"We've had to replace [running backs] before," Bendorf said. "Somebody will get an opportunity [to play]."