Dragons run all over Battlers in 45-7 victory

One week ago, JaQuan Hardy and Kyle Brunson tallied almost identical numbers in a win over Kentucky Wesleyan.

On Saturday at home against Alderson Broaddus, the trend continued.

Hardy carried the ball 15 times for 138 yards and three touchdowns, while Brunson added 15 rushes for 120 yards as Tiffin picked up a 45-7 Great Midwest Athletic Conference win over the Battlers.

“Having two backs goes a long way and it helps us when you can run two guys out there and keep them fresh,” Tiffin coach Cris Reisert said. “It is a humongous advantage that we have. We can throw either guy out there and not really have a drop off. It is a benefit for us as a team as we move forward.”

With the win, the Dragons improved to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the GMAC — good for first place by themselves. Tiffin still has a home game on Nov. 9th against Hillsdale (4-3, 2-1) and a road contest against Findlay (5-2, 4-1).

“We did think we would be here now,” Reisert said. “We planned on being right here. Our thing is not looking in the past or behind us. We are going to focus on next week. Our goal is to go 1-0, and quite frankly, their goal is to have a great practice on Monday.”

Tiffin led just 21-7 at halftime after converting just one of four chances inside the ABU red zone, but opportunities would not go unused in the second half.

The Dragons forced a three-and-out and Hardy took care of the rest of the work. He picked up 13 yards on the first play before exploding for a 53-yard touchdown. AJ Nickoli added the extra point and the lead was 28-7.

“It is fun playing in this offense,” Hardy said. “At the end of the day, if you are not having fun, why are you doing this? I tell myself to go out and have fun. If it is not fun, it is almost like a job.”

ABU (0-7, 0-4) picked up a first down on the next drive, but punted. Brunson scampered 24 yards to the Battlers’ 26, but that is where the drive stalled for Tiffin.

ABU again punted and quarterback Nick Watson ran for 11 yards and first down before Hardy went for 10 yards and a first down. Later, Watson converted a fourth-and-two with a 14-yard pickup before Hardy covered the final 16 yards for the touchdown.

The Battlers turned the ball over downs as the third quarter clock ticked away. Watson hooked up with Marcus Whitfield for a 48-yard pass. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Watson scrambled for 17 yards, but Tiffin was held to a 35-yard field goal try. That kick by Nickoli was good and Tiffin led, 38-7.

“I think for us, you want to see the energy,” Reisert said. “You want to see really good effort when you come out of the locker room. I thought our guys played hard. At times, we did not play smart, but we did play hard.”

The defense, which held ABU scoreless in the second half, added a touchdown of its own. Battlers’ quarterback Joe Czelusniak completed a pass, but the receiver fumbled the ball. Tiffin defensive back Patrick Teuimeh picked it up and went 59 yards for the touchdown.

“You definitely saw our guys come out and play with some juice, especially in the second half,” Reisert said. “I thought our defense played great in the second half and really gave us some things to build on.”

The Dragons quickly marched down the field on the opening drive, but turned the ball over on downs at the ABU 6-yard line. It was not until the third possession of the game Tiffin scored and that came on a play-action lofted pass from Watson to Devin Butler, who raced 93 yards for the opening score.

ABU picked up a pair of first downs and got into Tiffin territory before punting. Hardy gained 10 yards and Butler gained 27 more yards on a pass from Watson before Watson tossed a 14-yard touchdown to Spencer Moyer for a 14-0 advantage.

The Battlers put up their lone score of the game early in the second quarter when Nicolas Bishop broke numerous tackles en route to a 13-yard touchdown.

“Credit to those guys,” Reisert said. “They ran the ball well in the first half on us. They did some good stuff on defense just to hold us at bay. I thought their corners played well on the perimeter. It was certainly a challenge for us.”

Tiffin did not wait long to respond, driving 81 yards in eight plays — the last a 24-yard run by Hardy — for a 21-7 lead that held until halftime.

Reisert said the turnovers concerned him. Tiffin threw two interceptions while also fumbling the ball away.

“I thought we had too many turnovers on offense,” Reisert said. “That needs to get corrected and we will get that fixed. It was fun to have a little bit of adversity and see our guys battle.”

Watson completed 14 of 25 passes for 246 yards. Tiffin had 636 yards of offense.

“It does not matter who is in,” Hardy said. “I think the team is going to be good. Kyle and I are definitely a 1-2 punch.”

The three rushing touchdowns by Hardy moves him into a tie for fifth most in school history with Earl Haynes (2001-2004) with 21 touchdowns. Brunson’s 15 carries pushes him to seventh-most in school history with 347 and the 120 yards moves him up to eighth most in school history with 1,790 yards.