LEWISBURG – Bradford came out swinging on the road at Tri-County North scoring quickly on the first possession to go up 8-0. The Roaders also scored a touchdown as time expired in the game … but the Panthers were more consistent in between with a solid running game and some big plays scoring 34 points to knock off the visiting Railroaders 34-16.
Bradford used a 5-play drive to start the game including 3 big pass plays that including two catches from Landon Monnin one for 47 yards. The last pass was a 14-yard scoring strike from freshman quarterback Owen Canan to sophomore wide receiver Garrett Trevino for the score. The Roaders completed a successful pass to Hudson Hill for the two-point conversion to jump out front 8-0.
“We came out and punched them in the mouth, had them on their heels and I’m sure they weren’t expecting it,” Bradford coach Marcus Calvert said.
“Give Bradford credit they came out and took it to us and had us on our heels,” said Tri-County North football coach Adam Hall.
Tri-County North was unable to get on track offensively on their first couple of possessions. But finally made some big plays to start the 2nd quarter when Logan Flory threw a 55-yard pass to Colten Vanwinkle and on the next play Flory connected with Mark Heltsley for a 3-yard score, they would add the two-point conversion to knot the game at 8 each.
Bradford struggled to get out of their own way in the 2nd quarter stalling on drives but still generated points off their defense when Ben Kitts sacked the quarterback in the endzone for a safety giving Bradford a 10-8 lead.
The Panthers struck back with Luke Eby bolting through the Bradford defense on the next possession and he raced 63 yards for the score to give North a 14-10 lead at the break.
“We came out scored, then got a stop … but it’s not over after that, we must continue to do that throughout the game. We are so young (I hate to make excuses) our whole offensive line is new this year,” Calvert stated.
“As a young team it’s something we must learn to do, keep pushing. When you smell blood in the water you have to be the shark and go get more. Right now, its eye discipline and being physical at the point of attack, as a unit they need to work together and push people off the ball and impose their will, and I believe that will happen when we get more confidence,” Calvert added.
It was all Tri-County North in the 3rd quarter as they dominated up front and Bradford was unable to stop their run game as the Panthers scored 20 points in the frame to jump on top 34-10.
Scoring touchdowns in the run were running backs Alex Klingenbarger and Luke Eby on the ground and one by air a 21-yard TD reception by Landon Offenbacker.
“We just weren’t doing the things we practice … but as the game went along we started doing the things we’re supposed to do moving the ball and hitting on a few big plays as well,” Hall praised.
“Early on we were having problems getting to their middle linebacker. We talked about blocking down and kicking out and Luke Eby and “AK” Alex Klingenbarger were really hitting it hard tonight finally able to get someone up to that secondary level which allowed our running game to take off.” Hall stated.
Not only did Eby have a great game running the ball, but sophomore quarterback Logan Flory came up big as well. Flory did a great job of making good decisions and keeping drives alive.
“Luke Eby is such a good runner especially when he’s going down-hill,” complimented Hall on his senior running back. Eby finished the game with 220-yards rushing on 19 carries and two touchdowns.
Hall also praised quarterback Logan Flory. “I forget sometimes he is only sophomore because he makes good decisions and plays so well.” Flory completed 3 passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns.
Trailing 34-10 late in the game Bradford would put together one last drive led by Owen Canan who tossed a 5-yard pass to Hudson Hill scoring as time expired to make the final 34-16.
After the game coach Marcus Calvert gave me his thoughts on a freshman QB leading the team.
“He (Canan) is going to make mistakes but I’m a firm believer you have to throw him in the fire. We aren’t good enough to hide him with our run game, so we must use him and get him on the edge with his athleticism and speed. The more reps the better he’ll be at making decisions, sometimes he doubts his arm and holds the ball too long. He’s got good arm strength and accuracy he just needs to trust it and believe,” Calvert observed.
Canan would almost do it all for Bradford leading the defense with 19 tackles and he was 12-20 passing for 120 yards and 2 touchdowns.
“In the three years I’ve been here, except for the one game we’ve won, this was probably the closest to having a complete game. If we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot on two-three drives in the second and third quarter it’s a closer game. We know we’re going to have to live with freshman and sophomore mistakes … but right now we’re just a really good JV team working on becoming a good varsity team,” Calvert concluded.
Bradford falls to 0-3 overall and 0-2 in the conference and they will host winless National Trail on Friday.
Tri-County North improves to 2-1 overall and 2-0 in the WOAC and they travel to Dixie on Friday.