HU speeds past Quakers
Most times, Heidelberg was ready to snap the ball again before even the officials were ready.
The tempo that the Student Princes played at hit Wilmington early and often.
Heidelberg jumped out to a two-touchdown lead after one quarter and cruised to a 35-10 win over the Quakers in Ohio Athletic Conference action Saturday.
“Being a defensive coach, I know how much tempo really messes with you,” Heidelberg coach Scott Donaldson said. “No one has great depth on the defensive line. There is just not a lot of those guys out there. If you start wearing those big guys out, that starts getting you a lot of chunk yardage in the run game.”
And run is exactly what the Student Princes (2-0 overall, 1-0 OAC) did. Branden Short led Heidelberg with 36 carries for 187 yards.
“Brandon is a beast,” Donaldson said. “Today he showed not only is he a workhorse and able to grind it out, but he can break some big runs. He did not have any 50-yard runs, but he can get the 20- and 30-yard runs. He is so strong and hits the hole so hard that even if you hit him at the line, he is still getting four yards.”
The opening drive for the Student Princes was ran nearly perfectly. Short picked up 27 yards on first down. Maintaining a high speed, Heidelberg continued to punch Wilmington (0-2, 0-1) from every angle. The Student Princes did not have a negative-yard play and Jimmy Gephart hit Maceo Matthews for a six-yard touchdown. Brandon Steckel added his first of five points and Heidelberg led, 7-0.
“We started off hot,” Donaldson said. “We drove right down and it was a nice, methodical drive. You could not script that any better. We chipped away and punched it right in. That was huge.”
The Quakers quickly went to work as Kyle Barrett opened up the Wilmington offense. His 18-yard pass got the Quakers into Heidelberg territory. The Student Princes’ defense stiffened, forcing Wilmington into a 41-yard field goal try that was no good.
“We have to make a play in clutch moments,” Wilmington coach Bryan Moore said. “That’s an exceptional Heidelberg team and a well-coached team. When they got in those moments, they made some busted plays work.”
The teams exchanged punts and Heidelberg took over at its own 5. Using a balanced attack of Short and passing from Gephart, the Student Princes again quickly moved down the field. This time, Short scored from two yards out to finish off the 12-play, 95-yard drive.
“What made (Short) so effective was out ineffectiveness on offense,” Moore said. “That allowed them to stay in front of the chains and not take any chances.”
Both teams struggled offensively in the second quarter. Jacob Gerlak intercepted Barrett early in the quarter, but Heidelberg went three-and-out. Wilmington moved the ball on its next drive, but turned it over on downs inside the Student Princes’ 40-yard line.
Again, Heidelberg could not cash in, as another three-and-out resulted in a punt. Tramon Wiley added a second interception, but as was the case, the Student Princes punted again. All told, Heidelberg punted four times in the quarter and fumbled on a handoff to run out the clock in the second quarter.
“I think we had a little lull in the second quarter,” Donaldson said. “I think that is where they were getting the bulk of their yardage. Offensively, we just could not get a rhythm going in that second quarter.”
Wilmington turned the tables on the Student Princes early in the second half. Gephart was intercepted, setting the Quakers up near midfield. Barrett went to work, connecting on five passes in a row. The last was a three-yard touchdown to Ace Taylor to get Wilmington on the board.
Heidelberg had the quick answer as Wendell Morrison threw a 73-yard strike to Matthews in stride as the Student Princes took a 21-7 lead with 8:24 left in the third quarter.
Wilmington responded when Butcher hit a 20-yard field goal, drawing the Quakers within 21-10 after three quarters. Heidelberg re-extended the lead when Gephart scored on a six-yard keeper with 13:26 left.
Butcher was no good on a 34-yard field goal on the ensuing Wilmington drive. That set up the Student Princes’ next touchdown. Gephart threw a 58-yard pass to Matthews, who was brought down at the Wilmington 1. Short covered that on the next play and Heidelberg led, 35-10.
The Quakers put together a lengthy drive in response, but it ended when Loren Sauve intercepted Barrett – Heidelberg’s fifth interception in the first two games.
“Heidelberg makes it really hard to run the ball,” Moore said. “We tried to, but there was more guys in the box than we could block. We saw a lot of soft coverage and we felt like we could move the sticks.”
Barrett completed 30-of-52 passes for 333 yards. Donaldson was not surprised by the 52 attempts.
“I did expect that,” Donaldson said. “Their receiving corp is one of the best in the conference. They are very good and they are fast. They are experienced and well-coached. (Barrett) is phenomenal and he is a tough kid.”
After throwing for 330 yards and six touchdowns in a 57-7 win at Adrian, Gephart completed 13-of-26 passes for 175 yards.
“I am proud of the way the guys battled,” Donaldson said. “We have to be able to keep the rhythm going all game.”
It is the Student Princes’ 11th straight win over Wilmington. Heidelberg hosts Capital next Saturday at 7 p.m.