HAMLER — Patrick Henry scored three first-quarter touchdowns to back a strong defensive performance in the Patriots’ 35-20 win over Northwest Ohio Athletic League rival Bryan Friday at Big Red Stadium.
PH coach Bill Inselmann said he loved the way his team started the game.
“I thought our offense came out focused and determined to move the ball,” Inselmann said. “I loved the way we came out with balance and the way we took advantage of some mistakes.”
The Patriots got the scoring started when senior quarterback TJ Rhamy found Cade DeLong wide open for a 29-yard touchdown on fourth and five with 9:44 remaining in the first quarter.
“My corner got out there and never took his eyes off the huddle,” Bryan coach Grant Redhead said. “That’s on me as a head coach, to make sure that everyone knows who they’re supposed to cover, but they just busted that in space and burned us.”
After Patrick Henry forced a turnover on downs on their own 38-yard line, the Patriots rattled off a seven-play, 62-yard drive, capped by a two-yard run from Rhamy, to out PH up 14-0 with 4:11 remaining in the first.
Bryan went four-and-out on the ensuing drive, but Golden Bears’ punter Adam Fireovid pinned the Patriots back deep with a punt downed at the Patrick Henry 5-yard line.
On third-and-eight from the PH 7, Rhamy found Holloway for a 93-yard catch-and-run pass that put Rhamy over the 1,000-yard mark for passing on the season with 1:02 left in the first quarter.
“There was a little bit of contact on that play, for sure,” Redhead said. “He ran right through an all-league corner. Holloway is a great player, and not to take anything away from him or PH, because they’re a great team, but we need to get better.”
After Patrick Henry forced another Bryan punt on the next drive, Caleb Kepler picked off Rhamy at the PH 37, but the Patriots’ defense again held the Golden Bears without points on the drive, forcing yet another punt.
Bryan got the ball back two plays later, however, as Connor Arthur picked off Rhamy across the middle of the field on the Patriots’ second play of the drive to put the Golden Bears at the PH 31.
After a roughing the passer call gave Bryan a first-and-goal from the PH 7, Noah Kistner worked into the backfield for a sack of Nate Miller to push the Golden Bears back seven yards.
“I thought that Noah had his best game of his career last week,” Inselmann said. “We’ve been moving guys around, and he’s really stepped up for us. He made some plays.”
Bryan was eventually able to work the ball to a fourth-and-goal from the 2, but Dom James was stood up in the backfield for a loss of two yards as the Patriots preserved the 21-0 lead into the halftime break.
After a Bryan three-and-out on the first drive of the second half, the Golden Bears forced PH into a punt on fourth-and-three from the Bryan 46, but the snap went high over Rhamy’s head. Rhamy scrambled back to the ball and attempted to get a kick off, but the punt went right into the arms of Breven Deckrosh, who took it into the end zone for the Golden Bears’ first score with 5:21 remaining in the frame.
Patrick Henry responded with an 11-play, 85-yard drive, capped by an 18-yard touchdown run from Rhamy, to push the lead to 28-7 with 1:02 left in the third.
Miller found Arthur in the back of the end zone from 23 yards out to pull Bryan within 28-14, but the Patriots answered back two drives later as Wil Morrow set up a first-and-goal with a bruising 26-yard run, setting up a three-yard run for his first touchdown of the night to put PH up 35-14 at the 5:38 mark of the fourth.
Two plays after Kijano Hill leveled a big hit for a sack of Miller, Bryan stared down a fourth-and-19 from the PH 34, where Miller rolled right and found Arthur for his second touchdown of the game, pulling the Golden Bears within 35-20 with 3:29 left, but Bryan never got the ball back.
Patrick Henry recovered the onside kick, running five plays on the ground to kill the clock and seal the win.
Rhamy finished completing four of 12 passes for 150 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. The senior added 133 yards and two scores on the ground across 19 carries.
Morrow led all players with 185 yards on 26 touches, scoring once, while Holloway caught two passes for 103 yards and one score.
Austin Dean led the Golden Bears on the ground, running five times for 15 yards, while Miller threw for 130 yards and two touchdowns on 14 of 27 passing.
The Patriots gained 325 yards on the ground, holding the Golden Bears to 13 yards rushing.
After the game, Inselmann talked of his team’s playoff chances.
“My statistician told me before the game that we’re in with a win,” Inselmann said. “We did that. We deserve it, too, because we are a Division VII team in a league where everyone is bigger than us. We’re still expected to win, and we did that tonight.”
Redhead spoke of Bryan’s need to improve after seven difficult weeks for the Golden Bears.
“This is week seven, we need to be better than this,” Redhead said. “It’s frustrating, because this is a good team that is making too many mistakes. We’re going to have to get back to work and address some things.”
Patrick Henry (6-1, 3-1 NWOAL) travels to take on Wauseon next week, while Bryan (2-5, 1-3 NWOAL) travels to take on undefeated Liberty Center at Rex Lingruen Stadium.