BREMEN — Nate Leeper managed to keep things in good working order Friday night.
The senior quarterback passed for two touchdowns and ran for two more, helping No. 8 (Class 2-A) Bremen roll to a 55-13 victory over New Prairie in Northern State Conference football action at Don Bunge Field.
Leeper’s 6-yard strike to Ethan Pike late in the first period tied the game at 13-13 and started the Lions (3-0, 1-0 NSC) on their way to 48 unanswered points.
The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Leeper completed 8-of-13 passes for 160 yards and rushed the ball five times for 15 yards.
“Nate really did facilitate the offense tonight,” said Bremen coach Bob Holmes. “He threw the ball lights out in the first half, and we did a good job of running the ball. When you have the ability to do both and be versatile, it’s tough to defend.”
In addition to having six different receivers touch the football, the Lions accumulated 403 yards on the ground. Junior Reid Zellmer accounted for 164 yards on nine fourth quarter touches, including a 64-yard scoring romp. Senior Braxston Miller accounted for 139 yards on 14 carries and one score, a 20-yard run late in the third quarter.
“We’re definitely not one dimensional right now,” Holmes said. “That’s one of the reasons we’re having success”
The Lions wasted little time by taking the opening possession and going 52 yards in nine plays. A 22-yard kickoff return by Bobby Cornett paved the way for Leeper’s first score from 4 yards out.
Limited to just seven points in last week’s loss to Griffith (49-7), the Cougars (0-3, 0-1 NSC) quickly tied the game when quarterback Cody Carlisle found an opening and raced 41 yards to cap off a seven-play, 70-yard march.
A misplayed kickoff recovered by Jacob Wills put New Prairie in business at the Bremen 23. Three plays was all it took for Carlisle to finish off the drive with a 15-yard run.
“I thought we executed very well offensively in the first quarter,” said New Prairie coach Marty Mosson. “We managed to fix some of the things that didn’t work for us the first two games. We played with some poise and confidence.”
After that, things slowly started to crumble for the Cougars.
A fumble by Carlisle scooped up by Tim Zimmer put Bremen in business at the New Prairie 21 late in the opening stanza. It took just three plays for Leeper to hook up Pike.
Another downfall for the Cougars came early in the second period when a fake punt on a fourth down and three play at the Bremen 38 failed.
The Lions ended up scoring again as Leeper completed two passes for 39 yards before ending the drive with his second 4-yard touchdown run.
“I’d like to say that’s a great job by our defense,” Holmes said of stopping the fake punt. “Our special teams recognized the formation they were in. They had the ball around midfield, so we were ready and expecting it. Give credit to our kids for stepping up and stopping it.”
Bremen would tally two more scores before the halftime break, both coming on runs from Tyler Johnson.
After giving up more than 100 yards in the opening quarter, the Lions settled in and limited New Prairie to just over 100 the rest of the way.
“Their offense and speed are hard to simulate,” Holmes said. “I think it just took us awhile to get adjusted to it. I thought after the first quarter, we did a good job of recognizing what they were doing and were able to keep them contained.”
The senior Carlisle finished with 12 carries for 91 yards. Sophomore Wade Young added 81 yards on 16 attempts for New Prairie, which hosts Culver next Friday.
“We just didn’t execute after the first quarter,” Mosson said. “We did a good job of moving the ball. We just couldn’t finish off drives.”
Mitch Huppert had two catches for 60 yards and one score, and Sean Knepper added an interception for the Lions, who entertain Triton next week.
• BREMEN 55,
NEW PRAIRIE 13
New Prairie 13 0 0 0 —13
Bremen 14 21 13 7 —55
B — Nate Leeper 4 run (Lucas Schlarb kick)
NP — Cody Carlisle 41 run (Collin Szymanski kick)
NP — Carlisle 15 run (conversion failed)
B — Ethan Pike 6 pass from Leeper (Schlarb kick)
B — Leeper 4 run (Schlarb kick)
B — Tyler Johnson 3 run (Schlarb kick)
B — Johnson 6 run (Schlarb kick)
B — Mitch Huppert 15 pass from Leeper (kick failed)
B — Braxston Miller 20 run (Schlarb kick)
B — Reid Zellmer 64 run (Schlarb kick)
First downs 12 22
Rushing yards 255 403
Passing yards 20 160
Passing 3-9-1 8-13-0
Punting 4-29 1-39
Fumbles lost 1 1 Penalties 7-66 6-45