Bartlett found the best way to end its early season offensive scoring drought was to play in the rain Friday.
Sparked by the running of junior Nolan Bernat, in a steady drizzle on the field turf at Metea Valley, the Hawks won their Upstate Eight Valley opener 14-3.
Bernat accounted for 76 percent of Bartlett’s 248 yards of total offense, rushing 38 times for 189 yards.
“The kids came out to play and got the monkey off our back with the first score,” coach Tom Meaney said after his team notched the program’s 100th win since starting varsity play in 1998. They’re 2-1 after winning 3-0 the previous week.
Meaney has been there for all of them, serving as defensive coordinator for Dick Stephens (27-22) in the early years. He is 73-44 as head coach.
A 34-yard punt gave Bartlett the ball at the 50-yard line early in the second quarter of a scoreless game and four plays later, Bernat broke through the left side of his line for a 37-yard TD run.
“Ran it right through the 3 hole,” Bernat said. “The O-line had perfect blocks, fullback kicked out the safety and it was just wide open.”
The Hawks’ line of center Paul Antolik, guards Bobby Waltz and Ricky Foster and tackles Maat Wachter and Kyle Sanft gave Bernat room to operate all night.
Bartlett’s defense, sparked by linebackers Mike Bucaro and Daniel Danek, was solid as well. The Mustangs’ offense, featuring a talented running back in Bryson Oliver, spun its wheels its first five possessions, netting just one first down and 26 yards until moving the ball 43 yards in the final two minutes to set up a 37-yard field goal by Michael Sfikas as time ran out.
“We had some momentum there going into the half,” Metea Valley coach Ben Kleinhans said. “But in the second half we moved the ball but couldn’t score in the red zone. We moved between the 30s but couldn’t punch it in.”
The Mustangs (1-2) had two drives end in at the Bartlett 30 and tried a 28-yard field goal into the wind after stalling at the Hawks’ 12.
“We just tried to contain (Oliver) and keep him from scoring,” Meaney said. “He still got his yards.”
Oliver ran 24 times for 122 yards.
Bernat, who also plays defensive back for the Hawks, figured he missed just three plays, not counting special teams.
“We tried to get him to come out but he didn’t want to come out,” Meaney said.
Both QBs struggled in the passing game with the conditions. Metea Valley’s Kyle Mooney was 5-of-17 for 37 yards. Bartlett’s Jordan Flint attempted only four passes, completing one for 11 yards.
“We ran the heck out of the ball the first two weeks,” Kleinhans said. “What affected us the most was Bartlett stepping up and outplaying us.”