Garrett Miller of North Union makes a cut inside to avoid a Grandview Heights defender during the Wildcats’ road game on Friday. Miller rushed for 162 yards and three touchdowns during the 35-14 NU win.
The North Union Wildcats are known for their ability to run the ball at all cost. Either hard-nose running up the middle or around the outside using speed and agility, either way they are running the ball.
But behind, or in front of, every great running back is a great offensive line and head coach Nick Hajjar was not surprised by the power his lines showed during their 35-14 win over Grandview Heights on Friday.
“We knew going into the season that (strong offensive and defensive lines) were going to be one of our strengths and so far it has been,” said Hajjar. “Those guys played like men up front today, on both sides of the ball. I don’t care at what level it is, when you control the line of scrimmage, some good things can happen in the game of football.”
That offensive push helped the Wildcats eclipse 376 yards of total offense, all on the ground. Garrett Miller led the charge for a quartet of running backs with 162 bone-crushing yards and three touchdowns.
The first TD came on the Wildcats’ opening drive, when they chewed more than half of the opening quarter off the clock on 16 plays, all on the ground. The drive ended with Miller going up the middle for seven yards. Drake Price added the PAT to put the Cats up early.
The push up front was even evident on special teams when the Bobcats’ long snapper slung the ball wide of the punter on a fourth down deep in their own territory. The NU line pushed through the blocking efforts to bring down the scampering punter for possession at Grandview’s 25-yard line.
With the ball only 25 short yards to go to their second touchdown, the Wildcats utilized Carson Smith, the second runner in the Wildcats running back quartet, up the middle on a one-yard TD. Price sailed the ball throw the uprights to put the Cats up 14-0 by the end of the first quarter.
The short field advantage again was something that Hajjar has become accustomed to out of his defensive and special teams lines.
“Our defense has done a great job of putting pressure on offenses and putting us in some short fields and I thought they did that again tonight,” he said. “Offensively for the most part, we were able to take care of our business with that short field.”
The defensive pressure continued at the beginning of the second quarter as Grandview, which had run only five plays in the first quarter, had to punt the ball after a three-and-out.
Price got in on the running action as the third member of the quartet by breaking free in the middle of the field and moving the ball 37 yards to the Grandview 15-yard line. Miller bruised his way to his second touchdown on a 13-yard run. Price’s third PAT was blocked, putting the score at 20-0.
The NU defense forced the Bobcats into another three-and-out with a punt that traveled only 20 yards from deep in Grandview territory. The Wildcats had trouble converting the opportunity and had to turn the ball over on the Grandview 10-yard line.
“I thought offensively we left a couple of positions in the first half out there that could have put the game away earlier,” said Hajjar. “We’ve got to learn from that, especially as we go into a tough league schedule. We can’t miss those opportunities.”
Not all of the opportunities were lost as a bad Bobcat snap that sailed over the quarterback’s head landed in the end zone. The Bobcats recovered, but still gave up a safety to push the score line to 22-0 and turn the ball over to NU. The Cats took that score into halftime.
Grandview continued to struggle on offense after the half and had to give back the ball after only five plays.
North Union went back to business on the ground, handing the ball off to Smith. He made a hard cut inside on a 25-yard run to the end zone for his second visit of the day. Drake’s point after attempt fell short, but NU held a 28-0 lead.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Wildcats were knocking on the door. One play into the quarter, the door swung open for Miller a third time to push the Cats up 35-0.
The Bobcats answered with their first TD of their own. Harrison Morosky found some open space in front of him and rushed 69 yards for six points.
Hallie Georskey kicked the ball through the uprights to give the Bobcats seven points.
Grandview added a second touchdown on a 26-yard strike from Kyle Casey to Luke Lachey. The points came a little too late as the Cats on the ensuing drive grinded out the clock before taking a knee and ending the ball game in their favor.
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