By Ben Shanahan
Special to the Sentinel-Tribune
Behind the play of quarterback Mason Heintschel, Clay defeated Bowling Green, 56-28, in both teams’ Northern Lakes League Cardinal Division opener at Bobcat Stadium Friday.
Clay evens its overall record at 3-3, while the Bobcats fall to 4-2 overall.
Heintschel played a role in sixtouchdowns, three rushing, three passing, and he accumulated 331 total yards of offense.
“Here is our guy,” Clay coach John Galyas said. “He has been doing it all year. Sometimes you are like, ‘No, no, no, but then you are like, OK, it worked out.’ He does things you cannot coach.”
BG coach Josh Wade admitted his team was unable to find a way to stop Heintschel.
“We did some good things, and then we did some not-so-good things,” Wade said. “Credit to them that the quarterback is special.
“We have to find a way to get stops. We got a stop on the first drive, and then we did not get one the rest of the game.”
Both defenses stood tall on each team’s first possession after offensive penalties forced each offense into punt formation.
Clay lit up the scoreboard on their second drive, however. Heintschel led a five-play, 35-yard drive, resulting in seven points as Heintschel scrambled on fourth and goal for a 10-yard touchdown, giving the Eagles a 6-0 lead with 7:13 left in the first quarter.
The Bobcats responded with their ground attack, going on a 10-play, 67-yard drive ending in a one-yard quarterback sneak for Jamison Horst. The Bobcats converted afterward and took a one-point lead, 7-6, with 1:49 left in the opening frame.
After BG led 7-6 after one quarter, the Eagles scored 30 second quarter points to pull away, 36-14 by halftime. Clay scored 20 points in the third quarter to the Bobcats’ seven.
Clay took the lead back on the very next drive, which covered 82 yards on 11 plays. Heintschel threw a 25-yard TD pass to fellow junior Troy Hazuda with 11:01 left in the second quarter.
The Bobcats were not down for long, however. On the first play from scrimmage, explosive BG junior running back Ja’ceous Shannon broke free for 50 yards, giving the Bobcats another one-point lead, 14-13, with 10:43 remaining in the first half.
That did not slow down the Eagles, who mounted an 11-play, 67-yard drive. Heintschel capped it off with a one-yard QB sneak and the Eagles succeeded on a two-point try to take a 21-14 lead with 6:04 left in the half.
BGHS’s offense was finally stopped on their next possession as the Eagles’ defense broke serve. On fourth and three, Shannon came up short trying to run for it, and the Eagles defense returned the ball back to its offense.
With momentum on Clay’s side, Heintschel led the Eagles on another more efficient scoring drive, covering 65 yards on five plays. The drive finished with Heintschel’s third rushing touchdown, a 14-yard run, putting the Eagles up 29-15 with 2:48 remaining in the half.
Meanwhile, the Eagles defense continued building momentum as they forced another three-and-out, giving the ball back to their offense again.
Clay scored on another Heintschel touchdown, his fifth of the half, as he found junior receiver Brayden Schultz, making it 36-14 with 27 ticks left on the first half clock.
The first half ended with the Bobcats having a chance to cut into the Eagle’s lead but ended in disaster as the Eagles recovered a fumble off of a scrambling Horst, who lost the football.
The second half also started in disaster for the Bobcats as they fumbled the opening kickoff, which was recovered by Clay sophomore Jeremiah Santos and set the Eagles up in Bobcat territory.
One play later, Heintschel found Schultz on a 23-yard touchdown for his sixth TD, either running or passing, of the game.
This time the Bobcats did respond. It took senior back Peyton Harris only two plays to get 72 yards. He broke free on the second play for 69 yards, but Clay still led 42-21 with 11:01 left in the third quarter.
The Eagles continued their offensive dominance with a seven-play, 63-yard drive, with the scoring coming from junior running back Jake Titgemeyer, who found the end zone from two yards out with 9:14 left in the third quarter.
The Eagles scored one more time to start the running clock after a five-play, 60-yard drive made the game 56-21 with 3:45 left in the game.
The Bobcats scored last as their eight-play, 66-yard drive saw junior Jackson Shafer score on a 25-yard run.
The Bobcats did mount 335 yards rushing, but Horst threw just one pass which fell incomplete. Harris ran for 160 yards on 21 carries, Shafer ran for 81 yards on 11 carries, Shannon ran for 88 yards on nine carries, and Horst had six yards rushing on six carries.
The Bobcats, on 48 plays, averaged 6.98 yards per play, and had 10 first downs.
The Bobcats look to bounce back in another NLL Cardinal Division encounter at Sylvania Southview next Friday.