Nolan Dean and TJ Scruggs ran and ran and ran until the running clock became a reality during Friday’s Upstate Eight Valley Conference game against visiting Metea Valley.
The dynamic duo for Neuqua Valley rushed for 378 yards — the majority in the first half — to lead the Wildcats to a 65-28 victory.
“We wanted to come out and run the football so we started out with our power formation and felt like we were going to pound the football,” Neuqua Valley coach Bill Ellinghaus said. “We felt like we needed to re-identify ourselves a little bit and we wanted to run the ball and show we were more physical.”
Neuqua Valley (5-1, 3-0) jumped to a 14-0 lead after one quarter on a pair of touchdowns from Dean. The first came on a three-yarder and the next on a 53-yarder where he broke through the defense and pedaled down the sideline.
“The game plan was to run the ball until they stopped it,” Dean said. “We wanted to make a statement.”
Dean made a huge statement, finishing with 254 rushing yards on 12 carries, all in the first half.
Metea Valley (3-3, 3-1) was able to move the ball on offense, but the lack of any defensive stops made it impossible for the Mustangs to keep the game close.
“We didn’t play physical enough on defense,” Metea Valley coach Ben Kleinhans said “We’ve had success when we’ve played physical and aggressive, but we played on our heels and you can’t do that against a team like this.”
The Mustangs cut their deficit to 14-7 on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Blaise Bell to Nick Dodson with 9:48 left in the second quarter, but the Wildcats answered with a 44-7 burst to close the first half.
One of the touchdowns came on a turnover as Evan Cherney scored.
“Andy Fraczek poked it out,” Cherney said about the fumble. “I had never scored a touchdown before, so I was excited. I couldn’t believe it and just ran as hard as I could. I had my first interception last week and just wanted to keep things good.”
In the second quarter, TJ Scruggs added touchdown runs of 14 and seven yards and quarterback Broc Rutter connected with Ryan Kuhl for a 45-yard touchdown as well as a three-yard strike seconds before halftime to institute the running clock.
“We tested the field out before the game and even though it was wet, we felt we could run,” Scruggs said. “We just kept hammered it into them and just kept at it.”
Bell completed 12 of 19 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns in the loss while Jay Parker rushed for 73 yards.