BY J. PATRICK EAKEN | MIRROR SPORTS — Anthony Wayne needed just 19 plays from scrimmage in the first half and went on to roll to a 37-10 Northern Lakes League football victory over Southview at Schaller Memorial Field last Friday.
The Generals improved to 4-0 overall and open the NLL season at 1-0, while South-view falls to 1-3 (0-1).
Anthony Wayne’s senior linebacker Ben Allen said the team’s performance on both sides of the ball capped a good week for the Generals.
“This week we really put in a good week of practice – probably our best week of practice to date,” Allen said.
AW senior quarterback Max Denman completed 8-of-10 passes for 164 yards and four touchdowns, including three to the “other Max” in his class, wide receiver Max Bradfield.
Junior running back Ezra Scott ran for another 123 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries.
More than 75 percent of those offensive numbers were produced in the first half on limited time of possession. The Generals’ 19 first-half plays from scrimmage pale in comparison to Southview, which had 49.
The reason? AW’s offense was efficient and quick to score on every possession.
“Our offense did well. I think we got the ball four times to start the game and scored all four times,” said Anthony Wayne coach Andy Brungard.
The Generals offense found the end zone three times in the first quarter on drives of three plays for 70 yards, two plays for 10 yards and three plays for 73 yards.
Not quite halfway through the first, AW was already leading 21-0, and by halftime, the Generals were in front 34-3.
Southview’s offense also moved the ball well in the first half, accumulating 165 yards through the air on 23-of-30 passing by senior quarterback Brayton Schmidt. Junior Nathan Taylor threw two more completions for another 15 yards.
AW’s bend-but-don’t-break defense, led by Allen, kept the Cougars out of the end zone.
“I thought our defense made some good adjustments,” Brungard said. “They do some great stuff out of their offensive formations, but we responded twice on the goal line, which is good to see from our defense.”
“Our defense is starting to put it together a little more,” Allen added. “Their offense had some big plays on us, but we bent, we didn’t break at crucial times. We put forth a good effort.”
Allen’s name was announced so often for tackles that he was in double figures by halftime.
“Ben’s a team captain because his motor runs 100 mph, he’s got a big heart and he plays like it on Friday nights,” Brungard said. “We say he’s all over the place, and that’s why they picked him as captain. That’s the type of person he is.”
As a result, the Generals swarmed on Southview’s running attack, allowing just 31 yards on 14 attempts in the first half.
On the game’s first possession, AW needed just three plays – a 20-yard run by Scott, a 21-yard pass from Denman to junior Mason Alberts and a Denman connection with Alberts on a crossing pattern for a 29-yard touchdown.
The three plays took 22 seconds and AW was up 7-0 just 28 seconds after the opening kickoff.
On their first possession, the Cougars took a chance on a fourth-and-5 from their own 22-yard line, choosing not to punt.
Sophomore running back Nick Harshman, however, was caught 12 yards behind the line of scrimmage after catching a screen pass from Schmidt and the Generals took over on downs at the Southview 10.
On the second play from scrimmage, Scott managed to find the end zone on a 10-yard scamper, and just 1:09 into the game, AW led 14-0.
After booting two conversion kicks, junior Matt Paul sent the ensuing kickoff into the end zone on the fly, and the Cougars needed to go 80 yards to make it a one-possession game. At first, it looked as if they just might get it done.
Schmidt completed four straight passes, three for first downs, and Southview reached the AW 45. A bad snap on a third down, though, led to Schmidt covering the ball 17 yards behind the line of scrimmage, and the Cougars were forced to punt for the first time.
Anthony Wayne took over at its own 27, and this time it took the Generals three plays and 1:04 to go 73 yards.
Alberts started the offense moving on a 19-yard run, Scott ran for 6 yards and Denman connected with Bradfield for a 45-yard TD. AW led 21-0 with 6:19 still remaining in the opening quarter.
Southview then put together a 16-play, 89-yard drive that went into the second quarter, but a third-down pass from the AW 5 fell incomplete, and the Cougars settled for a 23-yard field goal by Alex Sagesse with 10:18 remaining in the half.
The Generals responded again – and quickly. Taking over at their own 37, it took them just three plays to go 63 yards – two runs by Scott and a 24-yard touchdown pass from Denman to Bradfield. The drive took 34 seconds.
After a failed conversion, AW led 27-3 with 9:38 remaining.
Southview again moved the ball well, this time getting to the AW 33, but a Schmidt pass fell incomplete on a fourth-and-4 and one more time Anthony Wayne took advantage.
A 67-yard drive took nine plays, highlighted by a 9-yard touchdown pass from Denman to Schmidt with 1:55 remaining until halftime.
Give Southview credit, though. Down 34-3, the Cougars still put together a 12-play, 77-yard drive starting at their own 20, but it did not result in points.
Schmidt threw nine straight completions and the Cougars managed to get into the red zone. On second down from the 3, AW junior defenders Kyle Ray, Josh Raimonde and Nolan Barber stuffed Schmidt for no gain as time ran out in the first half.
Due to the 31-point halftime lead, the second half saw a running clock and each team was limited to three offensive possessions.
The only Generals score was a field goal by sophomore Zain Hamid in the third quarter.
In the fourth, Southview put together an eight-play, 81-yard drive that resulted in a 17-yard touchdown pass from Schmidt to senior wide receiver Tyson King.
AW finished the game with 17 first downs to Southview’s 15, and the Generals rushing attack accumulated 201 yards.
Mason Alberts had four carries for 44 yards, senior Jeremy Giesken had five carries for 22 yards and senior Chase Alberts had one carry that covered 12 yards.
Bradfield was Denman’s favorite target, catching three passes for 78 yards. Mason Alberts caught two passes for 50 yards, junior Dylan Jennings had two catches for 18 yards and senior Tanner Gill-Snow had one reception for 18 yards.
Anthony Wayne, which sits at No. 1 in the Division II, Region 6 computer rankings, will travel to Bowling Green (2-2) this Friday for the second NLL matchup of the season.
BG opened the league slate by losing to Springfield, 31-26, but has a season-opening 15-8 non-league win over St. John’s Jesuit.