Courtesy of Heidelberg Athletics
ALMA, Mich. â€“ The Heidelberg University football team found the end zone in three of its first four possessions en route to a 42-23 victory over Alma College at Bahlke Field in Alma, Mich. Todayâ€™s contest was the season opener for both teams, and it marked the first time Heidelberg and Alma met on the gridiron.
Heidelberg opened up to a 21-0 lead before Alma answered with nine consecutive points to pull within 21-9 with 3:15 left in the first half. Over the final minute of the opening half Heidelberg and Alma traded scores, but the Berg held a 28-16 lead at the intermission.
In the second half, Heidelberg held the Scots scoreless in third, while finding the end zone once. In the final stanza, both sides traded TDâ€™s to push the final score to 42-23.
Under the guidance of fourth-year head coach Mike Hallett, the Berg won its fourth straight season opener. The last time that Heidelberg won four consecutive to open the year was from 1985-1989 when they won five.
Heidelbergâ€™s defense was anxious to get going and wasted little time making a statement. On Almaâ€™s second play of the game, linebacker John Irwin (Westerville, Ohio / St. Francis DeSales) intercepted a Ross Richard pass and returned it 15 yards into Alma territory.
Two plays later, after an Alma penalty sent the Berg on the verge of the red zone, the senior duo of Andrew Miller (Dalton, Ohio / Dalton) and Mike Preston (Euclid, Ohio / Euclid) put the Berg on the scoreboard for the first time in 2010. Miller found Preston for a 24-yard touchdown strike. Fellow classmate Jesse Hawkins (Georgetown, Ky. / Scott County) added the point after to complete the score.
Two possessions later, Heidelberg doubled its advantage when freshman running back Germany Woods (Cleveland, Ohio / Saint Edward) scored his first collegiate touchdown. Woods recorded a 20-yard rushing touchdown and Hawkins followed with the PAT. On the series, Woods recorded 25 of Heidelbergâ€™s 80 yards that they covered for the score.
Heidelberg maintained possession of the ball as the first quarter came to an end and went on to complete a 10-play, 89-yard drive with another Preston touchdown with 12:11 to play in the opening half. Miller found Preston for a five-yard TD. Hawkins connected on his third straight point after to push Heidelbergâ€™s lead to 21.
Getting Alma on the scoreboard was a team safety at the four minute mark of the second quarter.
Alma found the end zone for the first time on a 28-yard pass from Richard to Austin Montgomery with 3:15 on the clock in the second quarter.
In the final minute of the first half both sides traded scores. Heidelbergâ€™s offense settled down and reached Alma territory on a 28-yard reception by Mario Walton (Elyria, Ohio / Elyria). With 11 seconds on the clock, Woods found the end zone for the second time on the day, followed by a Hawkins PAT, to give the Berg a 28-9 lead.
Almaâ€™s final possession of the half started in â€™Berg territory and it took one play to find the end zone and cut into Heidelbergâ€™s lead at the break, 28-16.
A rejuvenated Heidelberg returned to game in the second half. After Heidelberg and Alma traded possessions, the third â€™Berg player found the end zone on the day. Senior fullback Chance Ferrell (Garfield Heights, Ohio / Garfield Heights) connected with Miller for a four-yard touchdown reception. Hawkins made the point after to give Heidelberg a 35-16 lead with 8:52 on the clock in the third quarter.
The start of the fourth featured Heidelberg knocking on the door at the one-yard line. Almaâ€™s line held off a run up the middle to start the quarter, but freshman Neil Anton (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. / Hialeah Miami Lakes) entered the game under center to punch it in from inches out for another Heidelberg TD. Hawkins pushed Heidelbergâ€™s advantage to 42-16, with his sixth PAT of the game.
Alma went 62 yards in 13 plays to finish the game with a four-yard touchdown reception by Andrew Scharr to close the game at 42-23.
For the contest, Heidelberg held a 483-237 advantage in total yardage. On the ground, the Berg recorded 172 yards, while holding Alma to just 73. Through the air, Heidelberg held a 311-164 advantage.
Offensively for the Berg Miller completed 19-of-30 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns. Walton hauled in six passes for a career-high 135 yards, while Preston led the way with two touchdowns off his eight passes for 92 yards. Ferrell came out of the backfield four five catches and a TD. On the ground, Woods led the way with 75 yards in 14 carries and two touchdowns. Picking up 62 yards in 21 attempts was Brad Jones (Lorain, Ohio / Lorain Southview).
Adding to the Heidelberg scoring was Hawkins. He was a perfect 6-for-6 in point after attempts.
Defensively, Andy Fadenholz (LaGrange, Ohio / Keystone) led the Berg with six tackles. Backing him was Vaughn Klein (Galloway, Ohio / Central Crossing) and Justin Stewart (Maplewood, Ohio / Sidney) with five stops apiece. Klein also recovered a fumble and had a pass break up. Finishing with a sack apiece was Dawson Gore (Bellevue, Ohio / Bellevue), Stefan Vizna (Sylvania, Ohio / Sylvania Northview), Tony McMorrow (Orrville, Ohio / Orrville) and Steven Carozza (Orrville, Ohio / Orrville).
Heidelberg will embark on its bye week before hosting Baldwin-Wallace College Sept. 18 in its home and Ohio Athletic Conference openers. Kick off is slated for 2:00 p.m. at Mayer Field, on the campus of Heidelberg. Its contest with the Yellow Jackets will also be shown on tape delay on SportsTime Ohio. Stay tuned for broadcast times.