ASHLAND – Fremont Bergan’s running game set the tone early against Ashland-Greenwood on Friday night.
Using a combination of three different ball carriers, the Knights strung together a 15-play, 65-yard touchdown drive – 14 plays of which were running plays – on their first possession of the game.
Bergan’s defense then was equally impressive throughout the contest and it helped the Knights shut out the Class C1 Bluejays 21-0 in Ashland.
Logan Brandt, Kolby Boggs and Jake Ridder shared the rushing load on Bergan’s first scoring driving which took just over 8 minutes off the clock to begin the ballgame.
Brandt kicked off the drive with five straight carries and later capped off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.
“We wanted to slow the game down and shorten it, and end up eating up a lot of clock,” Bergan coach Seth Mruz said. “We were playing a much bigger offensive and defensive line tonight. I told them it’s not the size of the guy, it’s how much fight and how much heart you’ve got. I thought we had more heart and more fight tonight.
“We battled and got yards almost every single play. … I thought our kids played more physical than they did and I think that’s what won us the game.”
The Knights’ stingy defense forced a quick 3-and-out for Ashland-Greenwood on its first possession and the Bluejays’ offense never could get on track the remainder of the contest.
Bergan, playing without starting quarterback Nick Burger due to a knee injury, started its second-quarter scoring drive at the Ashland-Greenwood 26-yard-line following a fumbled snap by the Bluejays.
Ethan Villwok’s 2-yard TD run completed a seven-play drive for the Knights and gave them a 14-0 lead with 3:15 left before halftime.
Mruz said he told the Knights last week after they lost Burger to injury: “’It’s going to have to be team football now.’ We’re a great team and I think they realized it tonight.”
The Bluejays were held to negative yardage in the first half and did not pick up a first down until their second possession of the third quarter.
“The secondary played so much better than they did last week,” Mruz said. “They were flying up and making tackles at the line of scrimmage. That was amazing. It was a total team effort. Our defensive line was playing well, the backers were flowing and the DBs were tackling in open space. We couldn’t have played much better on defense. Credit Coach (T.J.) Folkers and the kids for putting together a great game plan and executing it well.”
Bergan found the endzone again with 3:13 remaining in the fourth quarter on a 34-yard scoring run by Brandt. Trentin Ostrand converted his third PAT kick of the night and put the Knights up 21-0.
Ashland-Greenwood (1-2) followed up with its most-productive drive of the night, but it was eventually halted by an interception by Bergan’s Derek Smith, playing in place of Eli Herink who was injured in the pregame.
Bergan (2-1) will host No. 3 Battle Creek on Friday at Heedum Field.