Cimarron-Memorial senior Christian Brown forced two Faith Lutheran fumbles on first-and-goal plays in the Spartans 37-18 home victory on Thursday night.
It was far from his most important contribution to the victory.
Brown also rushed for 323 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries to help keep Cimarron (2-1, 2-0 Northwest League) unbeaten in league play.
Brown didn’t want to commit to whether he was more satisfied with his offensive or defensive role.
"It really doesn’t matter to me, as long as my team won," he said.
The Spartans were victorious largely because of their ability to run the ball and force turnovers. In addition to the two fumbles forced by Brown with Cimarron’s back to its goal line, Brandon Robinson intercepted three passes, returning one 85 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"Both Christian Brown and Brandon Robinson, they’re our senior captains," Cimarron coach Rod Vollan said. "They’re bright kids, and they play hard. You don’t have to ever worry about them physically or mentally being ready to play, and they did what great leaders do. They made plays and they led by example. Without those two, it’s not the same result."
Brown scored on runs of 17 and 61 yards in the first quarter to help the Spartans to an early lead. He had 175 yards at the half.
A 21-yard field goal by Arcadio Salcedo as time expired in the second quarter gave Cimarron a 17-0 lead.
The sustained rushing attack enabled the Spartans to control the ball for much of the half, limiting the potent offense of Faith Lutheran (2-1, 1-1) to 110 yards at the break.
"Part of the game plan is you’ve got to do something to try to disrupt them," Vollan said. "We actually controlled the ball for a significant portion of the first half. I think they only ran (22) plays in the first half, so we kept them off the field.
"Anytime you’re playing a great passing attack like Faith Lutheran, keeping them off the field disrupts their timing."
On the one scoring chance the Crusaders had, Brown burst through the line at the snap on first-and-goal from the 1 and tackled Faith Lutheran quarterback Joe Portaro before he could hand the ball off, causing a fumble.
"I just anticipated and made my reads," Brown said of his defensive plays. "I just used my quickness and tried to make a play for my team."
After a 48-yard touchdown run by Brown midway through the third quarter put Cimarron up 24-0, Portaro finally got the Faith Lutheran passing game going.
He capped the ensuing drive with a 1-yard scoring run, and then after the Crusaders recovered an onside kick, Portaro rolled right and hit a wide-open Devin Dolby for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 2 to cut the deficit to 24-12.
It was as close as Faith Lutheran got.
Brown added a 51-yard score in the fourth quarter, and after Portaro answered with his second touchdown pass to Dolby, Robinson sealed the game with his interception return.
Portaro finished with 301 passing yards and two scores to go with his one rushing touchdown.
Brett Lubbe had nine receptions and Dolby seven. Each finished with 89 yards receiving for the Crusaders.
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