Preppers dominate Bedford, 34-6 – News-Herald

College coach Ben Malbasa was hoping to see a little more balance in his running-focused offense.

Malbasa got exactly what he wanted, plus a dominating performance from his defense, as the Preppers went to Bedford, 34-6, on Oct. 8.

Focused from the start after having to cancel their previous game in Mogadore due to illnesses of several players, the Preppers scored touchdowns on all four possessions in the first half to come firmly into control at halftime, 28-6 .

University improved to 6-1 and had 338 rushing yards and 23 first downs. The Preppers finished with 172 rushing yards, led by Ryan Pattison’s 111 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Malbasa was especially happy that his offense was able to balance that with 166 yards through the air. Jackson Boland passed for 151 yards and a touchdown, and also ran for one. Joey Zigman completed two passes for 15 yards.

“I was really happy with how we performed defensively,” Malbasa said. “And then offensively, going 4 for 4 on drives in the first half, that puts you in a pretty good position to control the game.

“I’m happy with the progress of our passing game. We haven’t had a good time for a few weeks, so it was good to have some consistency.

University set the tone early, tackling Bedford punter Caleb Hunter before he could fire a kick after the opening possession.

The Preppers took advantage of the short field, going for 28 yards in four plays, capped by a 16-yard run from Pattison for a 6-0 lead.

A fourth sack down gave University the ball at the Bedford 48 on ensuing possession, Boland connected with senior WR Brian Kellon for a 37-yard touchdown. Pattison ran in the conversion to make it 14-0.

Kellon has done a bit of everything for the Preppers. He caught six passes for 105 yards and a score, ran the ball three times for 23 yards, played in the secondary on defense, and served as the team’s scorer. One of his points was a 13-yard pickup for a first down on a fake punt play.

“I’m ready to play anywhere, just trying to help my team win,” Kellon said. “I’m ready to move, or whatever. I think a lot of guys on the team are ready to move and be really versatile.

Bedford junior QB Ethan Hardnick, who rushed for 94 yards for the Bearcats, racked up 55 on a sprint to the end zone late in the first quarter to cut the deficit to 14-6.

But Pattison completed 70-yard and 73-yard runs in the second quarter on short runs, and the University defense made sure Bedford wouldn’t threaten again.

The Bearcats finished with 120 total yards and 7 first downs for the game, and an interception by University student second Kameron Shiver on fourth down stopped a drive that reached the Prepper 22.

The University secondary kept Bedford’s talented receiving corps in check and put a lot of pressure on Hardnick, led by defensive end Christopher Jackson.

“The key was to do our readings, keep our coverage, and make sure they didn’t get that QB like they did in the first quarter,” Jackson said. “Playing our best was key to slowing them down and getting those three outs.”

Boland added a 6-yard run in the fourth quarter for the final margin.

Bedford freshman coach Zac Toth agreed the punt error set a bad tone early on.

“That blocked punt was a game-changer,” Toth said. “The energy was pretty low after that. We knew they had a solid attack and we made mistakes in the secondary. I was really impressed with the physique (the Preppers). They beat us with the run and were more physical on the offensive line.

The university closes out the regular season with games against Warrensville Heights and Howland. The Preppers are currently in a position to set up a playoff game in Week 11, but Malbasa stressed staying focused is key.

“We just have to keep improving every week,” Malbasa said. “Eventually we will face a team that on paper everyone will choose against us. If we have improved throughout the year, how are we going to put ourselves in a position to compete with this team? is the goal right now.”

Comments are closed.