After surviving two long drives by Northwest into Tartan territory, East's Dustin Bradford began - and finished - East's third drive of the game by bursting through the middle for a 93-yard touchdown run, the first of five TDs East would score in a 33-7 victory at Northwest on Thursday.
“I felt relieved we finally got the score,” said Bradford. “They were playing tough. They came out with a lot of emotion but we knew we'd eventually wear them down and we knew we were more physical than them.”
East ran every single play out of the double-wing offense with Bradford, Brian Collins and Brian Hoover manning the backfield. Hoover finished with 90 yards on 11 carries and Collins earned 55 yards on 11 carries but Bradford out paced them all, rushing for 168 yards and two touchdowns.
Every time East ran the ball it appeared to slam into a wall of Mohawk defenders but the pile always moved forward.
“We were physically handled,” said Northwest coach Mark Spears. “They came in and made a few adjustments defensively and stuck a couple quicker kids up front and we just never got a handle on them. Offensively they ran it down our throats.”
But running wasn't the only skill the Tartans showcased. East forced an interception and recovered a fumble on defense, and on offense quarterback Josh Bailey showed off his arm, going 2 for 4 for 60 yards and a touchdown. Hoover caught a pass for 22 yards and Hood took one 37 yards to score.
“Bailey stepped it up for us,” said Bradford. “We're capable of throwing the ball, that's what people don't understand. We're a running team, but we'll throw the ball on anybody, we're not afraid.”
The Mohawks had their chances to score. On Northwest's first drive, quarterback Justin Malone and halfback Kyle Prose led the team from their own 28 to the East 36-yard line before punting and after forcing a fumble from East, the Mohawks took over in the red zone. That drive though stalled on the Tartan seven-yard line when East recovered a fumble to set up Bradford's big run. Malone finished with 9-for-32 with an interception and 127 yards. Prose ran for 37 yards.
“We were down there a couple times in the first half when it was still a ball game,” said Spears. “Some missed assignments take that away and we can't get in the end zone.”
In all the Tartans combined for 404 yards of total offense.
“It's amazing how picture perfect it came together for us,” said Bradford. “We did exactly what we meant to do.”
JOHN STEGEMAN can be reached at email@example.com.