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Spartans rout Nathan Hale, 56-10

The Bainbridge defense holds the Raiders to just 24 total yards.

Talk about your shock and awe.

The Spartan gridders scored on six straight possessions in the first half, running up a 43-point halftime lead en route to a 56-10 thumping of visiting Nathan Hale at Memorial Stadium on Friday.

What looked like it might be a fight – Hale ran the opening kick back 91 yards for a touchdown, then recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff to put the Spartans on their heels – soon turned into a beating instead.

The Spartans overpowered the visitors with effective run blocking for huge ground gains, while the defense held Hale to just 24 offensive yards for the game and scored twice for good measure.

The final margin would have been wider, but several long Spartan touchdown runs were called back for penalties.

“We scouted them and thought they were okay,” coach Andy Grimm said. “We just got momentum going and they couldn’t stop what we were bringing.”

Senior Tyler Hannon, who caught a touchdown pass and loomed large on defense, said it was a matter of playing up to the team’s own capabilities.

“I know we were the better team,” Hannon said. “We were able to play at our level, not stoop down to their level.”

The Raiders’ were actually the first to celebrate, catching the Bainbridge coverage flat-footed on the opening kickoff. Jeff Nozius found daylight up the middle and showboated his way to the end zone for a quick 7-0 Hale lead.

The Spartan return man then muffed the kickoff, giving Hale a golden opportunity in Bainbridge territory. But it was their last serious chance of the evening, as the Spartan defense smothered the Raiders to reclaim the ball around the 30.

That’s when the eruption started. Spartan senior running back David Vander Hoek capped a swift eight-play drive with a four-yard sweep, punctuating his own runs of 49 and 13 yards.

Mishandled kicks left Hale with dismal field position on three successive possessions, resulting in quick Spartan scores each time.

A punt from the end zone gave Bainbridge the ball at the Raider 28 late in the first quarter; quarterback Grant Leslie hit Hannon in stride in the right corner of the end zone, floating the ball over the outstretched arms of a defender for a 14-7 lead after the PAT.

Sixteen seconds later, linebacker Lucas Clark batted a Hale pass into the air, then pulled it in and rumbled 20 yards for a touchdown. And two plays after yet another Hale punt from the end zone, Leslie handed off to Zach Smith on an inside reverse for a 50-yard touchdown run and a 28-7 lead after one frame.

Hale’s woes continued with the turn of the quarter, as a fumbled snap by the punter and two penalties gave Bainbridge possession on the Raider 31. Leslie pitched to Zach Kornfeld on first down, and the senior raced untouched around right end to paydirt.

Angelo Ritualo scored on a sweep left with 8:50 to go in the half; the short drive was keyed by a diving catch by Hannon at the 2 yard line.

Late in the quarter, junior Carter Williams marked his entrance at running back with a 27-yard burst to the Hale 23. After a Bryan Gilbreath run, Williams ground out five more yards, then scored on a 10-yard run.

The scoring still wasn’t over. Yet another muffed kickoff put Hale on their own 8 yard line, with a procedure pushing them back five more. That’s when Hannon roared in from the linebacker position and caught the quarterback at the end zone for a safety.

Halftime score: Bainbridge 50, Nathan Hale 7.

The second half belonged to the second string, with junior C.J. Hall and sophomores Greg Korsak and Quinton Agosta seeing significant action under center. Jake Hinton rounded out the scoring with a long sweep.

The Spartans finished the game with 369 yards on the ground, from runners including Williams (64), Kornfeld (60), Vander Hoek (68), Hinton (55), Smith (48), Ritualo (22), Clif McKenzie (20) and Gilbreath (15).

That wasn’t the game plan; Grimm stuck with the run after it was clear Hale was overmatched.

“I think we would have had our way passing too,” he said. “We’re sportsmen enough that we don’t need to throw just to throw.”

The Spartan defense blanketed Hale, allowing the Raiders just seven yards rushing on 25 carries, and 17 yards passing for the game.

On Monday, the Spartan JV team routed Hale 36-0 in a road contest.

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