TIFFIN, Ohio – Before the season, Heidelberg University head football coach Mike Hallett assured everyone his team was not going to rest on their laurels after a trip to the NCAA playoffs in 2012. Instead, he said that his team was squarely focused on their opening game against Alma College.
He was right.
The Student Princes scored four touchdowns in the first quarter en route to a 52-7 win over the Scots on Saturday.
Junior quarterback Michael Mees (North Ridgeville) threw for 251 yards on 9-of-12 passing with a touchdown and an interception, all in the first half. Junior running back Cartel Brooks (Mansfield/Galion) ran for 104 yards and two scores on 10 carries. Sophomore Ryan Fischer (Bradenton, Fla. / Braden River) had a 71-yard punt return for a touchdown and 126 all-purpose yards.
As has been the hallmark for the ‘Berg offense, the first scoring drive of the game covered 66 yards in 1:15. Brooks opened the game with a 28-yard reception. Later, Robert Gray (Cincinnati/North College Hill) caught a Mees pass for a 32-yard gain to the Alma 2. Brooks found the end zone on the next play.
After Alma turned the ball over on downs, the Heidelberg attack struck again in swift fashion. Donteea Dye (Fairfield) and Fischer caught long passes from Mees to set up the first of two Bryan Lacey (South Euclid/Benedictine) touchdowns. Lacey’s 7-yard capped a six-play 58-yard drive in 2:12.
Brooks scored the next ‘Berg touchdown on a 43-yard rush. With 25 career rushing touchdowns, the junior is on pace to break the Heidelberg record for career rushing scores, 40, set by Paul Yackey in 1952.
Lacey closed out the scoring in the first quarter with a 10-yard rush. Despite only possessing the ball for 6:54, the Student Princes enjoyed a 28-0 lead.
Early in the second quarter, Mees found Ethan Kindle (Tampa, Fla./Robinson) in the end zone for an 18-yard strike.
Despite his success, Mees praised his offensive line. “The credit goes to the guys up front,” he said. “They gave us great protection and made me feel comfortable in the pocket. With that much time, we can be dangerous.”
The only blemish on the scoreboard for the Heidelberg defense came on a 3-yard score from Jarrett Leister to Erik Hines. The score was set up by a leaping interception by safety Adam Nelson at the Heidelberg 25.
The Heidelberg defense held the Scots to 211 yards of total offense.
Dan Kilger (Novi, Mich.) hit a 25-yard field goal to push the score to 38-7. On the day, Kilger connected on six extra points. His streak of consecutive PATs stands at 98, the longest current run in college football.
As the defense continued to excel in the second half, Hallett was able to rest his starters. Freshman running back Geoffrey Helms (Gahanna/Lincoln) was the workhorse on the only scoring drive in the third quarter. He carried the ball three times for 21 yards on the drive that finished with a touchdown pass from Jon Sandwisch (Woodville/Woodmore) to Kindle from six yards out.
Fischer’s electric 71-yard punt return was the final score of the game on a hot afternoon at Mayer Field.
“I thought we played really well in all aspects of the game,” said Hallett. “There were a lot of positives, but we will always look to improve, especially as we head into OAC play in a couple weeks.”
Linebacker Adam Cepik (Lodi/Cloverleaf) led the defense with 11 tackles and Will Nunnally (Euclid) had seven. Mitchell Kelly (Bedford Hts./Bedford) had an interception and three tackles.
After a bye, Heidelberg will return to Mayer Field on September 21 to face Ohio Northern in the third annual Bendekovic Bowl. The game, which also serves as Fellows Day, will kick off at 2 p.m.