Tribe Rolls Past Bees by 36-0 Score to Move to 3-0 on Year as Showdown with Fairmont Senior Looms

By Jeff Toquinto on September 07, 2017 via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Bridgeport wanted a quick start in its high school football game tonight against East Fairmont. In reality, the Indians needed a fast beginning just as much as they wanted it.
 
With starting quarterback John Mercia on the bench, several other starters nursing injuries and Fairmont Senior heading to town next week, the Indians wanted to jump out early on the Bees and let the first unit rest.
 
And that’s exactly what happened.
 
The Tribe scored on its first four possessions of the game and never looked back in what would turn into a 36-0 win against the Bees. BHS is now 3-0 on the year, while East Fairmont falls to 0-3.
 
“It’s good that the kids were able to come out early and it’s good that they were able to handle a little bit of success,” said BHS Coach John Cole who began to freely substitute midway through the second quarter. “ … They played hard and that was the good thing. I wanted them to come out and play hard and give good effort and they’ve done that since day one and hopefully that will keep up.”
 
With the win, things are set up for a potential battle of the No. 2 vs. the No. 3 teama in Class AA next week at Wayne Jamison Field. That would require Fairmont Senior to upend North Marion tomorrow at East-West Stadium and for the MetroNews voters to keep the Polar Bears at No. 2 and the Indians at No. 3.
 
Whether that unfolds remains to be seen. What did unfold this evening, was a Bridgeport team that struck early and often and didn’t need much in terms of yardage to get it done.
 
The Indians had all the offense it would need in the first half and, actually, in the first quarter. And that first half offense included only 117 yards on just 27 plays. The Tribe got all of the first half points on their first 20 plays from scrimmage.
 
By game’s end, the numbers Bridgeport posted would seem to indicate a setback. The Tribe had 197 yards in the game – all on the ground – on 47 plays (44 rushes).
 
That’s all that was needed as the dominant start was aided by a strong showing by the defense and the special teams setting BHS up with a short field throughout the first half. Bridgeport gave up just 20 total yards on 18 plays in the opening 24 minutes, including 21 rushing yards on 14 ground attempts. The second half was completely played by Bridgeport’s reserves and the Bees never could crack 100 yards for the game and had only one drive in the entire contest that ventured into BHS territory.
 
The reserves were in early and throughout the second half because of the aforementioned lightning fast start. Incredibly, before the first quarter was halfway through the Indians were up 14-0 and only needed five plays and 20 yards to get there.
 
As strong as the opening of the game was for the guests, it was just as disastrous for the Bees. After recovering its own fumble on the first play from scrimmage, East wasn’t as lucky on the second play.
 
A loose ball was scooped up by Maverick Eddy and returned to the EFHS 14-yard line to put Bridgeport in business. Three plays later, Jake Bowen went in from nine yards out as he sidestepped the only tackler in his way on an off tackle play. The first of four first half Koby Kiefer point-after kicks made it 7-0 with 10:01 showing on the first quarter clock.
 
After Bridgeport’s defense forced a quick three and out, the Bees punted away and senior Sebastian Meade – getting his first return of the year – made the most of it. Meade fielded the ball and then weaved his way 52 yards to put the Tribe at the East Side six.
 
This time, it would take just two plays to cover the distance.  Devin Vandergrift, getting the start for Merica, kept the ball to get his first varsity touchdown and, following the PAT, put BHS up 14-0 with 6:32 to play in the quarter.
 
“He did a good job for us,” said Cole of the play of his sophomore quarterback. 
 
Bridgeport wasn’t done in the period. Once again, the Tribe got set up in good field position thanks to the defense that forced a quick three-and-out and a 14-yard punt return by Caleb Strakel. On this drive, BHS started at the East Fairmont 43.
 
The Indians used seven plays to cover the 43 yards and would get the score on the last play of the first period. Brice Haines did the honors going the final six yards on a fourth-and-one to help the visitors go up 21-0.
 
Nothing slowed down in the second period. After watching another huge Meade punt return to the East Side one wiped out by a penalty, the Indians still had good field position at their foe’s 41-yard line.
 
The Tribe converted for six points a short time later. Bridgeport would need seven plays – including a pair of incomplete passes – to get back into the end zone. Once again, Vandergrift did the honors as he pulled the ball from Haines’ stomach and kept it for a three-yard score. Kiefer’s final PAT of the half – and the game – made it 28-0 at the 7:41 mark.
 
About the only thing that went wrong for the Indians came on what was essentially the final possession of the first half that saw wholesale substitutes in the offense. The late offensive drive stalled at the 22-yard line and Kiefer had the distance on his first field goal attempt of the year, but was just wide on the 39-yard try.
 
Bridgeport managed one final score.  In the fourth period, third string quarterback Austin Gibson made the most of his time on the field and carried the ball in from one yard out on a keeper with 1:46 to play. A two-point run by Braden Oldaker gave the Indians the last of their 36 points.
 
Haines finished as the game’s leading rusher. He had 64 yards on nine carries. Bowen carried the ball three times for 34 yards.
 
Now Bridgeport has an extra day to prepare and likely scout Fairmont Senior Friday. The Polar Bears come into Wayne Jamison Field next week as the Tribe’s homecoming opponent. The chance to sit Merica, who Cole expects to be ready for the game, as well as most of the first unit more than half the game was big, according to the coach.
 
“We’ve got guys playing both ways so when we can get some rest and get some guys fresh than can run the football (we will),” said Cole.
 
It also allowed Bridgeport to get junior varsity players plenty of reps. And those young players got their reps against many of East Fairmont’s first unit.
 
“Having (the jayvees) out here and being able to play, that’s what we’ve always done (when we can). It makes them better … To get our varsity out of there with no one hurt hopefully and get (the junior varsity) experience is good for the program,” said Cole.
 
Bridgeport is now 44-10 all-time against East Fairmont. The Tribe is also 4-1 on Thursday night games.
 
Editor's Note: Top photo shows Brice Haines running over East Fairmont defenders, while Christian Olivio delivers a hit on defense in the second photo. In the third picture, Devin Vandergrift tosses the ball to the official following one his two touchdowns, while Jake Bowen is shown breaking loose on one of his three runs in the game in the next picture. In the fifth photo Sebastian Meade heads up field on a punt return. In the bottom picture, Maverick Eddy stops an East Side player in his tracks. Photos by www.benqueenphotography.com.


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