It wasn’t quite the blow-out some had predicted Friday when the visiting Kenston Bombers scraped together a 6-3 win to open the 2015 varsity football season.
The Comets defense — which coach Bill Fishleigh has nicknamed his “Attack Dogs” — allowed the Bombers into the end zone only once on a first quarter hook by senior Ben DeFranco. The point-after attempt went wide.
The scoring drive was made possible by two costly penalties as Amherst was called for roughing the quarterback and jumping off-sides.
“It was frustrating,” Fishleigh said. “It’s tough when you have a defense that’s just playing their lights out and you’re not able to make it happen on offense.”
With a field goal courtesy of Comets kicker Ryan Sturgeon, the green and gold were within reach of victory the entire evening.
Kenston quarterback Parker Gdula was a mobile threat. Towering at 6 feet 3 inches, he was able to spot holes in the line and rush for gains even when Amherst safeties locked down the pass routes.
Fishleigh said breaking up passes cramped the Kenston game plan, forcing more runs than air attacks.
“They started running the ball more and we were winning it up front,” he said. Led by Todd Hastings, the Comets defenders “fly around and hit people hard and that’s what I love about them. If they keep that intensity, we’re going to do well.”
The defensive line kept the dream alive, denying three near-touchdown strikes by the Bombers to keep the scoreboard static through three-and-a-half quarters.
A fourth close call came before half time when Gdula found receiver Max Seewald on a 26-yard arc to put the Bombers a yard from the goal line.
The play was called back on a flag and Seewald missed a fourth down pass and the Comets took over.
Wide receiver Evan Shawver roped in a 30-yarder of his own late in the third quarter to set up a red zone push for the Comets.
Quarterback Nick DeJesus surged forward on an eight-yard carry to put Amherst just 10 yards from the goal. But a fumbled snap ended the drive on the first play of the fourth quarter as the Bombers recovered.
While Kenston was unable to put up additional points, Gdula and company refused to let go of the ball.
They picked up key first downs to manage the clock in the final minutes, taking a knee on first and goal from the two yard lane with 23 seconds remaining.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Ryan Sturgeon puts one through the uprights for Amherst’s only points of the game Friday in the 6-3 season opener versus Kenston.