By John Bombatch
BEAVERCREEK— A solid running game, stifling defense and the only Beavercreek pass completion of the night, earned the host homecoming Beavercreek Beavers Friday’s win over Clayton Northmont on Frank Zink Field.
Tim Bradshaw gained 140 yards on the ground on 32 carries, but his 1-yard touchdown run of the night was set up by Beavercreek’s lone pass completion — a 27-yard lob from back-up quarterback Cody Hocker to Julian Linkhart. Two plays later, Bradshaw barreled in from a yard out to put the Beavers out in front by 10 points.
“I’ve known Nic since he was these players’ age. When he played at Piqua, I coached against him,” Northmont coach Tony Broering said after the game. “He’s a fine young man and a great coach. Even though we lost, I’m happy for Nic because I know how hard he works. … From the football side of it, when you turn the ball over like we did in the first half, you’re going to struggle.”
Northmont tossed a pair of interceptions in the contest and lost one fumble. Beavercreek fumbled four times and lost three of them.
Northmont was relatively clean in terms of penalties (five flags for 27 yards), but Beavercreek drew 14 penalties for 97 yards, and six of those were the false start variety.
Beavercreek’s defense had a lot to do with the Northmont turnovers, though, especially late in the game.
With Northmont threatening to score and pull themselves within one possession of either tying the game or pulling ahead, the Thunderbolts drove down to the Beavercreek 9-yard line with five minutes left to play.
But that’s when junior defensive back Jack Kowalski killed the ‘Bolts chances by snaring an interception in the Beaver end zone.
On Northmont’s final possession of the contest, Brian Loose sacked ‘Bolt quarterback Brenden Reck on a 4th-and-15 play from the Beavers 16-yard line. Beavercreek then ran out the clock to preserve the win.
Danny Holstein snagged a ‘Bolt interception earlier in the game, and Loose also fell on a fumble for Beavercreek.
“We’ve done a good job defensively and have a lot of confidence in how we play when we’re backed up like that. Our corner made a big interception, and we had tackles for losses at critical times. I’ve been telling them since we started playing our scrimmages, ‘we’ve been causing turnovers down there, making big plays down there, and at some point it’s not an accident. At some point it shows that you know how to play when you’re backup up against your own end zone like that.’ I was really happy with how they played down there in the Red Zone,” said Beavercreek coach Nic Black.
Northmont running back Avery Miliner carried 17 times for 100 yards and a touchdown in the loss. Nick Boyd caught seven passes from ‘Bolts quarterback Brenden Reck for 29 yards.
Black smiled when asked about the late-game lob to Linkhart.
With fourth down and 10 yards to go from Northmont’s 28-yard line, Hocker hurled a pass toward the end zone. Linkhart had been double teamed on the play, and it appeared that one of the Northmont defenders was going to pick off the pass with relative ease. But Linkhart somehow jumped between the two Thunderbolts and came down with the ball.
“Yeah, he wanted to go down there and give us an opportunity to make a big play, because at that point in the game we were struggling to get some yards once Hunter (Maloney) went out. We needed to get the ball to the perimeter and make some of those big plays, and he wanted a shot to go up and catch a big pass like that,” Black said.
Maloney, Beavercreek’s starting quarterback, was injured on the Beavers’ first drive of the second half. Hacker filled in admirably the rest of the way. There was no report on the extent of Maloney’s injury after the game.
Beavercreek will play its first GWOC Central road game on Friday when they’ll visit Springfield for a 7 p.m. game. Northmont hosts Centerville that same night.
Score By Quarters
Northmont 0 7 0 0 — 7
Beavercreek 0 10 0 7 — 17
B — Michael Chuck 30 field goal
B — Danny Holstein 45 interception return, Chuck kick
N — Avery Miliner 6 run, Ryan Tanto kick
B — Tim Bradshaw 1 run, Chuck kick
Records: Beavercreek (5-1, 1-0 Greater Western Ohio Conference, Central); Clayton Northmont (1-5, 0-1 GWOC Central).
John Bombatch can be reached at (937) 372-4444, Ext. 2123.