WALKERTON — John Glenn football coach Justin Bogunia knew his young team would be facing a learning curve at the start of the season.
The Falcons seem to be clicking now.
Glenn reeled off its third straight win Friday night, using a balanced offense and a stingy defense to hand Triton a 39-7 Northern State Conference loss at home.
“We’ve done a good job improving as the weeks have gone on,” said Bogunia. “We’ve got a lot of new guys starting for the first time this year and so I knew that there were going to be some growing pains in the beginning, but they’ve really gelled together and stuck to what we do, and it’s starting to pay of for them. This is another step this week, and I feel that there are a lot of things we got better on.”
Glenn found balanced rushing production from Derek Hiler and Zach Combs, both of whom surpassed the century mark with 101 and 104 yards, respectively, as well as Adam Dodson, who tallied 50 run yards as the home team chewed up 294 yards on the ground. Hiler scored a trio of rushing touchdowns, and Combs scored on a 3-yard TD reception to open the scoring at the 3:30 mark of the first quarter as Falcons quarterback Kyle Liedtky connected with his targets at a 9-of-16 rate for 104 yards and three scores, including a pair of 7-yard strikes to Jake Strong in the second quarter that lifted Glenn to a 19-0 halftime advantage.
“Combs and Hiler, this is the third game in a row they’ve either rushed for 100 or been close to 100,” Bogunia said. “That’s kind of big for us, and then to be able to connect on some passes. I thought Liedtky did a better job than what it showed on the stat book last week because he hit some open guys that dropped some balls… I think he’s improved each week, and our supporting cast has helped with that. It’s easier to pass when you’ve got the run game going as well.”
Glenn’s defense wasn’t giving anything away on the other side of the ball, either, as the Falcons limited Triton to 117 total offensive yards for the game. Glenn kept Triton from making a single first down in the opening half, and the Falcons varsity pitched its second straight shutout as the Trojans only finally managed a score against Glenn’s reserves with the game firmly out of reach late in the fourth.
“This is the second week in a row that our varsity has pitched a shutout, so I’m really happy with their play. When we played that Jimtown game (in Week 2), I thought that game was pivotal for our defense because I knew our front five and our middle linebackers really did a great job in that game, just hitting wide and controlling in between the tackles,” said Bogunia. “Jimtown couldn’t run the trap and they had some problems with their power running game against our guys up front. So we’ve kind of just built on that in the last couple weeks. Because we’ve built on that we feel like our front five is just about as strong as anybody we face.”
“Up front was where they took it to us,” echoed Triton head coach Rodney Younis. “We didn’t handle the pressure. We tried to slow them down with some screens, but that wasn’t working for us either. We tried to break it with a trap — a lot of times when teams are going to blitz on you, you try to hit a quick one — but it just wasn’t working. But hat’s off to Glenn; they played a good, solid game.”
Still, Triton’s fourth quarter score — a 1-yard run from Cody Shively with 3:20 remaining in the game set up by a Cain Thorn interception and 15-yard return — was a big positive for the Trojans, who managed to avoid being shut out a second straight week after a tough 7-0 loss to Bremen last week.
“Our kids aren’t going to quit. They’re going to keep playing until the game’s over, and they did that again tonight,” said Younis. “But the bottom line is we’ve got to get better on both sides of the ball. We have to be balanced, but we were unable to have a passing game, and that’s crucial. We have to have that to set up our run game and vice versa.”
Penalties were a rough spot for both teams as Glenn finished with 65 yards lost on eight whistles, and Triton was called back 50 yards on seven penalties.
But it was the Trojans who were hurt most by untimely penalties as they squandered a big 47-yard breakaway run by quarterback Bryson Mosier at the start of the third quarter with a personal foul and a block in the back to stall out their first drive at the Glenn 28.
“The second half we made an adjustment or two and we shot ourselves in the foot a couple times and it backed us up,” said Younis. “Then we get another nice gain, and it goes right back again. Those are things that we can have control over, and those are things that we need to improve on.”
Hiler led Glenn’s offense with 44 yards on four catches and 101 rushing yards on 23 carries, including a trio of touchdown runs for the Falcons as they widened the gap to 39-0 in the third and fourth quarters. Combs finished with 104 yards on 15 rushes and two catches for 10 yards and a touchdown. Strong recorded two touchdown catches worth 14 yards, and Dodson collected 50 rushing yards in 10 touches.
Triton was led by Mosier’s 66 net yards in 10 carries and 4-of-17 passing for 30 yards, as well as Shively’s two receptions for 13 yards and 33 yards on seven carries, including his 1-yarder for the Trojans’ lone score with 3:20 left to play.
Glenn improves to 3-2 with a 3-1 NSC mark and will travel to Culver Military Academy for a nonconference match-up next Friday night.
Triton remains winless at 0-5 overall with a 0-3 NSC record. The Trojans play host to league foe New Prairie next week.
“There’s still a lot to play for,” Younis said. “Like I told our boys, obviously we’re not playing for a conference championship, but we’re playing to get as high as we can in our conference and keep improving looking forward towards sectional.”
• JOHN GLENN 39, TRITON 7
Score by quarter
Triton: 0 0 0 7 — 7
Glenn: 7 12 13 7 — 39
JG — Zach Combs 3-yd pass from Kyle Liedtky (Micheal Schmeltz kick), 3:30
JG — Jake Strong 7-yd pass from Liedtky (kick fail) 4:44
JG — Strong 7-yd pass from Liedtky (pass fail) 0:30
JG — Derek Hiler run 15 (run fail) 7:42
JG — Hiler run 9 (Schmeltz kick) 2:26
JG — Hiler run 8 (Schmeltz kick) 9:05
T — Cody Shively run 1 (Sabastion Bautista kick) 3:20
First downs: 21 7
Rushing (att-yardage): 59-294 26-99
Passing (att-comp-int): 9-16 4-18
Passing yardage: 104 30
Fumbles-lost: 1-1 3-2
Penalties-yds lost: 8-65 7-50
Rushing: Hiler 23-101, 3 TD; Zach Combs 15-104, Adam Dodson 10-50
Passing: Liedtky 9-16 for 103 yds, 3 TDs
Receiving: Strong 2-14, 2 TDs, Combs 2-10, 1 TD, Hiler 4-44
Rushing: Bryson Mosier 10-66, Shively 7-33
Passing: Mosier 4-17 for 30 yds, Shively 0-1
Receiving: Shively 2-13, D.J. Riffle 1-16
Records: Glenn 3-2 (3-1 NSC), Triton 0-5 (0-3 NSC)