By Frank Foreman
The Bulldogs certainly made the long trip to Bradford worthwhile.
A steady ground attack and four defensive turnovers proved to be the difference, as Meadville picked up a Region 5 win over the Owls Friday night at Parkway Field.
Both teams run the same offensive set, a Wing-T formation, but it was never difficult to tell the two apart. The Bulldogs ran with much success, including 220 yards on the ground by halftime, while Bradford struggled to find a rhythm.
It was exactly the type of victory any head coach would be happy with.
“It was a good trip over to Bradford. You never know what to expect after a long bus ride,” Meadville head coach Mike Feleppa said. “The kids came out and performed, and they executed well.”
Unlike a week ago when Bulldogs’ running back Ryan Harkness ran for 311 yards, Friday night’s success on offense was spread around, highlighted by a 105-yard, two-touchdown performance from Nathan Martin, and a two-touchdown night from Caleb Bish.
Martin was the first to crack the end zone, scoring on a nifty 13-yard run to make it 7-0 late in the first quarter. The score came after both teams traded fumbles to start the game following long drives.
In the second quarter, Martin found paydirt once again, this time via a 30-yard run that was nicer than the first, putting the Bulldogs up 14-0 midway thought the second quarter.
After the Meadville defense forced a 3-and-out, the Bulldogs’ offense was back in business, piecing together a 10-play, 71-yard drive, capped off by a bulldozing 1-yard touchdown run from Bish to give Meadville a commanding 21-0 halftime lead.
“The kids executed the game plan on both sides of the ball,” Feleppa said.
Harkness had already rushed for 68 yards at halftime, but sustained a foot injury late in the half that kept him on the sidelines the rest of the game.
The Bulldogs didn’t miss a beat, and continued to control the game.
In the second half, both teams traded possession before the Owls finally got something going.
A long drive was capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by Tim Shuster to cut the Meadville lead to 21-6 on the final play of the third quarter.
But the Bulldogs put the game away in the fourth, this time on the defensive side of the ball.
Combined, Meadville collected three interceptions, two coming in the second half, both from Martin.
“The secondary played well,” Feleppa said. “Three interceptions is big for us. Up front, they weren’t able to move the ball consistently, and we were able to shut them down. The defense did a great job.”
The Bulldogs put the finishing touches on the game when Bish scored from 1-yard out to cap a 12-play drive with 2:53 remaining in the game to push Meadville's lead to 28-6.
Martin had a big game, rushing for 105 yards on 13 carries, and snagging a pair of picks. Derek Niemann rushed for 76 yards on 13 carries in the win.
The victory makes it two in a row for the Bulldogs, something they haven’t done all season.
Now, Meadville looks to continue its late-season success next week against DuBois.
But first, it’s time to enjoy the win.
“We’re happy,” Feleppa said. “It feels great to get back-to-back wins. It feels great to get any win. We just have to keep the ball rolling against DuBois now.”