By Chris Chaney
The Batavia Bulldogs were able to rebound from an early deficit to secure a 40-12 victory over Southern Buckeye Conference rival Clermont Northeastern on Friday, Sept. 21 and keep their perfect season going.
At 5-0 overall and 1-0 in conference, the Bulldogs have already surpassed the number of wins accumulated over the last two years combined, thanks in large part to the returning core of players that coach Don Sizer at his disposal.
“We have a lot of experience returning, so our expectations were high,” Sizer said.
The Bulldogs seem to be living up to those expectations through the first half of the season and especially on Friday night.
Although a pesky Clermont Northeastern team wouldn’t go down without a fight, the Bulldogs were able to enforce their will, largely in the second quarter to put the game out of reach for the Rockets.
The Batavia defense, a strong point for the team this season, looked a bit out of character in the first quarter, giving up a few big plays to Rockets’ senior quarterback Derick Schmidt.
On the opening drive of the night, Schmidt used both his arm and legs to hurt the Bulldogs, converting on a long third down scramble, before starting the scoring when he connected with Clay Cousino.
Cousino, an athletic wideout, adjusted to the Schmidt throw, going up between two Batavia defenders to pick the ball out of the air. He then ran for 10 yards to find the endzone.
The tough break had Batavia coaches wondering aloud on the sideline if there were any blown assignments that allowed the Rockets to take the early lead, but it turned out simply to be a heck of a play by Cousino that put the Bulldogs behind 6-0 midway through the first quarter.
Batavia was quick to answer, however, as quarterback Keyshawn Foley ran in his first of two rushing touchdowns from 12 yards out. A failed PAT kept the score knotted at 6.
On the ensuing drive, the Rockets were able to again find the endzone, this time on a Clay Cousino rush that put the Rockets up 12-6, which would be the score at the end of the first quarter.
Unfortunately for CNE fans, that would be the last time the Rockets would sniff pay dirt.
The Bulldogs’ defense stiffened and the offense began to run like a well-oiled machine as the Foley-led unit would go on to score 28-unanswered points in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs again found the endzone when Foley hooked up with Gabe Archer for 35 yards and a touchdown with 11: 27 left in the second quarter, giving Batavia a 20-12 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
Foley combined for 173 total yards and three touchdowns when all was said and done. He threw for 67 yards on 4/8 passing and ran eight more times for 106 yards.
The Bulldogs used a steady dose of their three running threats, Foley, Sean Hill and Zainn Ison, to close out the rest of the game
Ison ran 13 times for 66 yards and Hill ran 11 times for 51 yards. Hill was able to see the fruits of his labor in the form of two touchdowns.
For the Batavia defense, the 12 points that they gave up marked the fifth time this season that they have held their opponent to 14 points or fewer.
With the loss, Clermont Northeastern dropped to 1-4 on the season and 0-1 in the Southern Buckeye Conference.
Schmidt led the way for the Rockets, throwing for 140 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran for 17 more yards.
On the ground for CNE, Dallas Miracle carried the ball 12 times for 26 yards. Cousino added 35 yards on five carries as well as catching two balls for 48 yards and a touchdown.
The Rockets will play their second conference opponent in as many weeks as they will play host to Bethel-Tate on Sept. 28.
As for the undefeated Bulldogs, they look to keep their historic season going next week when they will travel to 1-4 Williamsburg, who is coming off of a loss to Blanchester last week.
Hoping to keep their perfect record in tact with a win at Williamsburg, the Bulldogs will move on to face Blanchester on Oct. 5 in a battle of the top teams in the SBC National Division.