HOBART | Coming off of last week's loss to Crown Point, Jeremiah Walker knew what was coming Friday night: an angry Griffith Panther team and its aggressive running style.
But the senior wide receiver and the Brickies were prepared and rose to the challenge in its Northwest Crossroads Conference opener with a 38-13 victory.
It didn't start well for Times No. 6 Griffith, as Walker took the first kickoff of the game to the house from 91 yards out.
"It was a big statement game for us," Walker said. "We'll celebrate this one and I feel good, but we have to get ready for KV (Kankakee Valley) next week."
After Griffith (1-2, 0-1 NCC) stalled on its next drive, Hobart punished the Panthers with a six-play, 56-yard drive, which was capped by senior running back Ian Drobac's 5-yard plunge.
Going 3-for-8 on third downs in the first half, the Panthers finally started to move the ball toward the tail end of the half, and they finally broke into Hobart territory with about six minutes left in the second. But Austin Brown fumbled a snap, which was recovered by Brickie senior defensive back Levettus Spencer.
The Brickies (2-1, 1-0) then fittingly went on a 12-play, 63-yard drive that lasted a little under five minutes and ended on an Aaron Del Grosso 29-yard field goal.
In the third with 7:19 left, it was more bad news for the Panthers, as Brown fumbled again on the Hobart 40.
After Griffith's next drive was halted, Anthony Burgos took Brown's punt 56 yards to the 20, which set up Noah Smith's 9-yard TD run to make it 24-0.
"We worked hard on special teams all week," Hobart coach Ryan Turley said. "It was also nice to start the game with a kickoff return and be up seven points before the offense even gets on the field."
Hobart's defense got into the scoring act late, as junior Nick Bokun recovered Austin Brown's third fumble of the game, but this was in the end zone after the snap went over Brown's head.
Brown was subsequently intercepted on the next drive by Walker.
"Elijah has grown into a nice player for us. He's a big kid, has a great attitude, and goes hard all the time," Turley said.
Though Brown had one of the worst nights in his stellar four-year career, he still reeled off an 80-yard run and ran for 163 total yards.
"We were very prepared for Brown," said Walker. "We knew what to expect because he's a good player."