The Firelands Falcons ran early and often Friday, trouncing the Oberlin Phoenix 43-8 in Henrietta Township.
Falcons running back Nick Denney rushed for three touchdowns while quarterback Michael Bansek ran for one score and threw for another.
Denney credited his offensive linemen for his success. “Every game they’re just busting their butts and getting big holes for me,” he said.
Firelands controlled the game from the outset, leading 22-0 at the end of the first quarter and 36-0 at the end of the half.
With their offensive line dominating, the Falcons set the tone for the game on their first possession. The 52-yard drive ended with Bansek running right and turning the corner for an eight-yard touchdown. Running back Larry Verhovec ran up the middle for a two-point conversion to give the Falcons an 8-0 lead with 6:33 left in the first quarter.
The Phoenix (2-3) went three-and-out on their first possession and the Falcons (4-1) followed with an 85-yard scoring drive. It was capped with Denney sweeping right, turning the corner, and running for a 50-yard TD. Kicker Ethan Hayes’ extra-point made it 15-0 with 3:18 left in the first quarter.
The Phoenix fumbled the Falcons kickoff and Firelands followed with an approximately 55-yard drive. Denney ran 14 yards off the left guard and Hayes converted to make it 22-0 with 1:59 left in the first quarter. Denney turned the left corner and streaked down the sidelines for a 32-yard TD. and Hayes connected again to make it 29-0 with 9:19 left in the second quarter.
The last Falcons first-half score came when Bansek connected with receiver Colin Myers for an 85-yard touchdown. Bansek threw to the right side and Myers made a pretty over-the-shoulder catch at about midfield and raced down the sideline. Hayes’ kick made it 36-0 with 7:12 remaining in the half.
Falcons coach Mike Passarrello said the touchdown was good for the confidence of Bansek, a junior in his first season starting. “Everybody knows we’re a running team first, but we’ve got to be able to pass the ball too,” he said.
The Falcons’ final score came on Verhovec’s two-yard run off the right guard. Hayes’ PAT made it 43-0 with 1:16 left in the third quarter.
Running back Devan Yarber was Oberlin’s lone bright spot. While the Falcons were able to contain Yarber for much of the game, he scored the only Phoenix touchdown.
It came on a 42-yard run with 3:21 left in the game and many of the Falcons’ reserves playing. Yarber swept left, then cut back right and used his speed to score. Tight end Journey Toole caught a two-point conversion pass up the middle from quarterback David Payne to make it 43-8.
Phoenix coach Garrett Mack said the Falcons’ triple-option offense was something Oberlin only sees once per season and was difficult to defense.
He said the Falcons offensive line is powerful, and the entire team is disciplined and well-coached. “That’s probably the best team we’ll see on our schedule all year,” he said.
Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.
Photos by Evan Goodenow| Civitas Media Firelands quarterback Michael Bansek scores on an eight-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Bansek later threw an 85-yard TD in the Falcons’ 43-8 win over the Oberlin Phoenix in Henrietta Township.