Ian Fisher certainly didn't look like a Player of the Week candidate early on in last week's regional finals game against Western Tech. The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Brunswick quarterback threw two interceptions in the first quarter, both of which were returned for touchdowns. Western Tech jumped out to a 22-10 lead and the Railroaders were reeling.
"That was two touchdowns that were completely my fault," Fisher said. "But I told myself that I was not going to be the reason we lost this game -- we'd come too far. I stayed confident and I came back strong."
Indeed he did. Fisher, the state's leading passer, found his groove in the second quarter and led Brunswick to a 36-22 victory.
By the time Fisher was finished, his numbers surpassed every other quarterback in the state last week. He completed 12 of 24 passes for 265 yards and four touchdowns and added in over 50 rushing yards and another score.
"Considering how poorly I played early," Fisher said, "it was an awesome comeback."
Fisher indirectly credited Western Tech's defense with helping him out. Brunswick runs a spread offense, and opponents that have defended it well have deployed two-deep zones. They prefer to let Fisher have the short stuff while cutting off the big plays. But Western Tech bucked the trend, gambling with press coverage the entire game.
"They played a straight man coverage and our receivers were one-on-one the whole game," Fisher said. "Once I figured it out, we took advantage of it. We thought [Western Tech] would adjust after awhile, but they didn't. I just picked them apart. They didn't stand a chance."
Fisher's first touchdown pass actually came before his initial meltdown. Receiver Jake Struss ran an out-route, but Fisher's pass went to his inside shoulder and was almost picked off. But the throw had enough mustard on it to split the defense.
"Somehow Jake came up with it," Fisher said. "He broke two tackles and ran 53 yards to the end zone."
The two interceptions followed, putting Brunswick at a 12-point disadvantage at the end of the first quarter. But Fisher cut into that deficit midway though the second period when he hit Blaine Price for a 28-yard touchdown, drawing the Roaders to within six, 22-16.
"It was a corner route, but I rolled out and he broke off the route and came back to the ball," Fisher said. "I threw it to him and he made a great catch between two defenders."
Fisher's third touchdown pass tied the game. His No. 1 receiver, Tyrus Lawson, had man coverage on the outside. He beat the cornerback off the line, raced downfield and Fisher found him for a 51-yard scoring strike.
"Instead of being down at half we were tied at 22 and we got the ball back at the start of the second half," Fisher said. "That was huge."
The Roaders rode (pun intended) that momentum right into the third quarter. On their opening drive Fisher connected on a 30-yard bomb, taking the ball inside the Western Tech 10-yard line. Then he tossed a 5-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Shankle, giving Brunswick their first lead of the game. They would never relinquish it.
"That was the dagger," Fisher said. "We were ahead and [Western Tech] didn't know what to do -- they didn't know how to come back. We closed it out from there."
With Fisher on fire, Western Tech finally changed up their defenses. They started double teaming the receivers, shifting the safeties out wide and moving the linebackers over to cover the slot receivers. But that left the middle of the field vacated.
Fisher's eyes grew wide. For a 6-6 guy, Fisher is fairly fleet of foot, so he took off running. He picked up 26 yards, 28 yards and finally capped the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run, increasing the lead to 36-22.
"I just gashed them up the gut on the same three plays," Fisher said. "The middle was completely uncovered."
Fisher's fifth touchdown ended any chance Western Tech had of a comeback. Brunswick cruised through the final few minutes, enjoying the victory before they start preparing for Havre de Grace in the state semifinals next week.
"We played our hearts out tonight," Fisher said. "We got the win, and we want to keep going."