Martins Ferry debuts with win at Heath

HEATH – It was a clear cut case of season-opening Purple Reign.

Veteran Martins Ferry head coach Dave Bruney was hoping for the best in the Riders’ 2012 debut at visiting Heath.

What Bruney got was a superior effort from his ball club which came off an early second quarter deficit to roll past the Licking County school, 46-21.

In essence, Ferry dominated the host Bulldogs, totaling 410 offensive yards while limiting Heath to but 110 stripes.

“Obviously, I’m very pleased with the overall play our young men put forth here tonight,” Bruney remarked. “I thought we did a lot of good things on both sides of the ball. It’s never easy making a long bus ride in your season opener and our guys responded in a big way.”

The Purple were sparked by a number of players who produced outstanding individual efforts. Most notably, ace receiver Cody Schau and a pair of capable quarterbacks.

Schau basically dominated the Dogs, pulling in 11 receptions for 164 yards and three scores. Quarterbacks Tyler Strama and Eric Flowers, meanwhile, enjoyed efficient outings.

Strama, the Purple’s senior vet, completed 8-of-14 tosses for 143 yards with two scoring strikes to Schau.

Ferry’s QB also did infantry damage, scoring on runs of 25 and one year. Flowers also starred, going 9-of-11 up top for 143 yards and a TD.

“I was exceptionally pleased with the play of our quarterbacks,” Bruney disclosed. “(They) are a couple kids who provide different looks (to the defense). Both young men executed well.”

The Purple traveled 77 yards on the game’s first scoring drive with Strama carving up Heath for 76 through the air. Schau streaked the left sideline, hauling in a 28-yard scoring aerial at 6:07. Strama’s conversion made for a 8-0 lighting.

Heath’s Donyelle Simpson landed the ensuing kick and sprinted 73 yards to stun the Belmont Countians seconds later. Spencer Mill’s conversion made it 8-7.

Simpson came back early in the second quarter, finding the end zone from seven yards out. Mill’s PAT had Heath in front, 14-8.

“There was no panic at all from our kids,” Bruney declared. “We made an adjustment in the (kickoff) game and it proved effective.”

A 20-yard strike from Flowers to tight end Robert Vargo sparked Ferry’s go-ahead 66-yard drive, capped by Flowers’ 9-yard TD toss to Schau. Marcus Sutton ran in the two-point conversion and Ferry was leading for good.

Before the halftime horn, Ferry added a third touchdown, this time using the talents of Brandon Laughman whose 17-yard surge to the house had the Purple ahead, 22-14 heading to the lockerroom.

Ferry dominated action over the final 24 minutes as Strama accounted for three unanswered tallies, first tallying on a 1-yard sneak, followed by a 14-yard TD strike to Schau. Strama broke contain and raced 25 yards for the Riders’ final points of the evening. Heath added a fourth period six-pointer for the final reading.

Twice Ferry recovered second half squib kicks with R.J. Burress and Jack Fitch securing the football.

The Riders totaled 254 through the air and added 156 via the rush. Heath mustered 102 in rushing and completed just one pass, that going for a 9-yard TD.

Next Friday, Ferry makes its home debut when Shenandoah’s Zeps invade.