The Falcons’ rushing attack with Nick Denney was already a tough one to stop.
It may have become a two-headed monster, though, after Logan Straders racked up 188 yards and three touchdowns Friday.
Denney, an area leader in rushing yards entering the game, added 78 yards and a score of his own on the ground in Firelands’ 43-12 victory over the Clearview Clippers (1-3).
Firelands improved to 3-1 with the win and sits in a logjam atop the PAC Stars standings with Buckeye, Keystone, and Black River.
Head coach Mike Passerrello called Strader’s night “a breakout performance.”
“It really meant a lot to me,” he said. “The defense was trying to shut Nick down and it opened up opportunities for me. We would fake a sweep and the entire defense would flow out to make sure Nick didn’t have the ball. We still want to take things one game at a time and not look too far ahead.”
Firelands amassed 311 total rushing yards on the night.
For junior quarterback Michael Bansek, a big-time running game is just what the doctor ordered as he settles into his first year starting under center.
“I worked hard in the off-season and I knew I had big shoes to fill,” he said. “But I knew I had many players around me who could step up.”
Bansek attempted just nine passes but connected with Mike Whitacre on a 63-yard score that put the Falcons up 27-6 as the first half closed.
“I’m glad to have our running game and I have a lot of confidence in it,” said Bansek. “The passing game doesn’t always work and having great running backs and blockers can make up for it. We just have to find ways to stay consistent and avoid the ups and downs.”
Clearview got on the board first after a 75-yard punt return in the first quarter followed by Strader responding with a 38-yard score on the ground. Firelands pulled away in the second quarter thanks to a 28-yard run and 34-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Denney before Banskek found Whitacre for the long strike through the air.
Strader put his final stamp on the game with two second half scores: another 38-yard run followed by a 49-yarder.
“I’m really happy for the kids,” said Passerrello. “They’ve worked hard to get to this point. We’ve been able to continue positive momentum after a big win last week and come out of Clearview with a win, which is always a very tough place to play. It’s great to know we can run the ball like that and we have guys up front who take pride in blocking for their backs. It’s something they’ve hung their hat on the past few years.”
He said the team needs to find ways to be more consistent and to avoid costly mistakes.
“The main thing is to get rid of our self inflicted wounds and hurting ourselves with penalties,” he said. “We need to close those up and become a more crisp football team.”
Firelands will host Oberlin (2-2) this Friday night as they try to keep pace in a tight conference race.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Civitas Media Logan Strader breaks through the Clearview defense on his way to a 188-yard, three touchdown evening. The Falcons are now in a four-way tie atop the PAC Stars standing with Buckeye, Keystone, and Black River.
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