Brookfield's fortuitous start versus South Shelby was for naught on Friday night.
The Brookfield football team fell to the Cardinals at home, 28-20, after taking a 6-0 lead on a lucky break moments into the game.
The Bulldogs began the game with a three-and-out before a botched punt gave Brookfield possession back at the South Shelby 33-yard line.
Garrett Starlin -- a junior who returned from an injury in last week's Macon game -- punched in a 15-yard rush for the score three plays later.
On the following drive, South Shelby responded with a chain of first downs before an eight-yard touchdown rush from senior Daniel Burke. He finished the evening with 39 carries for 218 yards.
The Bulldogs expected him to line up under center on each play, but instead, he was divided between running back and quarterback duties.
"South Shelby played really well up front, and this is a really well-coached team," Brookfield head coach Scott Stevens said. "They executed really well, and they controlled us up front on offense, especially because they did some things they hadn't shown on film. Defensively, I thought they did more at the line of scrimmage than we thought they would do, and we already knew that they'd do a lot.
"They wore us down, and it showed later on."
After catching another break, Brookfield scored again on the following drive. The Bulldogs converted a fourth down, and on the ensuing series, a third-down facemask against quarterback Carsen Beckman that otherwise would have been a 10-yard sack was flagged for a facemask. Dawson Baker scored on the following play.
Not to be outdone, South Shelby capped off an 85-yard drive with another Burke touchdown, this time from one yard out.
With a little over two minutes remaining in the first half, Beckman completed a 36-yard pass to sophomore Bryson Collier. Beckman finished 2-6 passing for 43 yards.
The drive took a wacky turn when Brookfield attempted a 36-yard field goal on fourth and 19 shortly before half. South Shelby blocked Starlin's kick and took it 81 yards to the endzone.
"That was the turning point in the ballgame, and it's something that we've been practicing heavily," Stevens said. "We had some leakage in the middle, we allowed a big play on it, and it's something that we learned from."
Instead of being down two, Brookfield trailed 22-12 at the halftime break.
The first of two total scores in the second half came on the first play of the fourth quarter when Burke capped off a 70-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown. Brookfield bounced back on the following possession, with the culmination of a 62-yard drive being a Trace Alexander three-yard touchdown. Alexander also notched the two-point conversion.
The junior was held in check, finishing with 40 yards on 18 carries.
Brookfield got the ball back with 3:28, but was unable to get across the chains on four downs. The game was all but over from that point.
Baker finished with 68 yards on just six carries. In total, the Brookfield offense racked up only 151 yards.
South Shelby posted 307 yards.
Between the two teams, there were seven passes thrown.
"This Brookfield team had played some of these big Clarence Cannon teams really close," South Shelby coach Rob Wilt said. "I'm proud of the way my kids responded. Our defensive line focused on stopping their dive because we knew that created their offense. We were tough this evening, and I think the conference schedule brought us to this moment."
The Bulldogs fall to 2-6, and South Shelby advances to 3-5.