Trojans rush for 280 yards, pass for 186 more in 29-point drubbing of Central City
By Troy Banning, DFJ Sports Editor
POSTED: August 23, 2009
BLAIRSBURG - Is he a quarterback, a running back, or a wide receiver? At least for one game, he was all three.
Northeast Hamilton senior Seth McGowan did a little bit of everything - and he did it all quite well - Friday night as he helped the Trojans open up the 2009 football season with a resounding 43-14 beating of Central City in 8-man non-district action.
McGowan's primary responsibility was on the ground where he chewed up 137 yards of real estate and scored three touchdowns on 27 carries. He also caught three balls for 59 yards and, just for good measure, completed his only pass attempt for 22 yards.
Not too shabby for a player that is relatively new to the spotlight.
"I was pretty happy with how things went," McGowan said following Friday's contest. "Our line blocked pretty well for most of the game and in the second half they got tired and that helped us out quite a bit."
Central City (0-1) was just as exhausted mentally as it was physically throughout the second half. And the main culprit was Northeast Hamilton's relentless offense, which produced 466 yards of total offense - 280 on the ground and 186 through the air. The Trojans (1-0) scored 37 unanswered points after the game was tied at 6, churned out 23 first downs to the Wildcats 10 and held a significant edge in plays from scrimmage, 76-46.
Many of Northeast Hamilton's plays came out of a variation of the single wing offense. McGowan, along with fellow backs Marcus Mechaelsen (78 rushing yards) and Austin Pigsley (16 rushing yards, two touchdowns) routinely took direct snaps from the shotgun, which kept Central City constantly guessing.
"This is a single wing offense and we went to it because we really wanted to get that balance back where we could do different things with our backs," NEH head coach John Seiser said. "We didn't want to be predictable and we wanted to get all of the kids into areas where they could show their strengths and everybody did a really good job."
Mechaelsen did the brunt of the work when the Trojans went vertical. He completed eight of 12 passes for 124 yards and one touchdown. His 9-yard scoring hook-up with senior all-state tight end Trey Seiser early in the game capped a 10-play, 78-yard drive that sent NEH on its way to the blowout.
Seiser yanked down four balls for 58 yards. Sophomore tight end Clay Harreld was also a main target, as he caught three passes for 69 yards.
McGowan and Pigsley finished off impressive drives in the second quarter with scoring bursts of 4 yards and 1 yard respectively to propel the Trojans to a 22-6 halftime lead. They nearly pushed the lead even further on the final play of the half, as Mechaelsen found McGowan streaking down the right sideline for a 31-yard reception, but he was wrangled to the ground from behind at the Central City 10-yard line.
As it turned out though, McGowan had plenty of other opportunities to work on his end zone celebration. He took a direct snap and went untouched across the goal line from 2 yards out on the Trojans opening drive of the third quarter for a 29-6 lead. It was set up by a 14-yard pass from Mechaelsen to McGowan on fourth-and-11 that put the ball down inside the Central City 5.
Following Pigsley's second touchdown - an 8-yard scamper right up the gut - McGowan again broke through the defense for a 4-yard score to make it 43-6 in NEH's favor with 11 minutes, 48 seconds remaining in regulation.
Central City had just 13 yards of total offense in the second half prior to a late-game 53-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown against the Trojans' second- and third-string players. The Wildcats finished with 117 rushing yards and 46 more through the air, a far cry from the 430 they amassed one year earlier in their 70-55 romp over NEH on the opening night of the 2008 season.
"Last year was probably about as miserable as I've been as a coach just because it was embarrassing to play that poor defensively," John Seiser said. "So to go from where we were last year to (Friday night), yeah, we're very happy with the improvement. I think I was most proud of the second half because we wanted that attitude of coming out and playing strong. The guys came out and really took it to them."
Central City starting fullback Matt Clary was held in check for most of the night and churned out just 41 yards on 10 totes, and his only big run - a 13-yard scamper - came on a fake punt in the opening quarter. Speedy wide receiver Mason Nielsen caught only two passes for 21 yards, but he did break free for 56 rushing yards. Still, Nielsen's performance paled in comparison to his 5-TD outburst from the 2008 season opener.
NEH junior defensive back Dillon Timm collected a game-high 10 1/2 tackles, eight of with were solo, and senior Tyler Fellows added eight, including four solo stops, up front.
"I thought we played awesome for our first game," Fellows said, noting he had a little extra incentive to get after the Wildcats. "Coach Seiser told me before the game that their coach thought I was a good player, but he thought I was slow and I was going to prove him wrong. I think I did that."
NEH will play once again in front of its partisan crowd on Friday when it welcomes old North Star Conference rival Twin River Valley to town for a non-district game at 7 p.m. Fellows, for one, isn't about to let up now just because his team has one win under its belt.
"We were good, but we can get a lot better," he said. "We've just got to keep working hard."
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