The Brandon-Evansville football team bounced back from a season-opening loss on the road last Friday with another game five days later, and the Chargers made sure to put that loss in the rearview mirror quickly.
Brandon-Evansville got the start it wanted by jumping out to a 14-0 lead against Bertha-Hewitt (1-1) on Wednesday night. It led to a 22-0 win as the Chargers improved to 1-1 after their home opener.
"I think we just came out swinging first," B-E junior Tyler Bitzan said. "They were on their heels right away. We like playing in this weather. We always have, and we just came out swinging."
Senior Cade Carlson and Bitzan form another talented backfield for the Chargers. They did the bulk of the heavy lifting on the first couple drives as Carlson punched in a two-yard score and Bitzan ran one in from 21 yards on the next drive to make it a two-score game.
It was part of a dominant first quarter where the B-E defense also forced two turnovers on a fumble recovery and an interception from Kyle Schaffran.
"We knew we needed to start fast and get back to doing what we do," Chargers' head coach Tim Pattrin said. "They played pretty well. We still had some miscues we need to clean up, but overall we really emphasized that you have to come out and fight."
The Chargers' offense slowed after the first quarter, and Bertha-Hewitt had its chances. The Bears drove the ball down to the B-E 5-yard line right before the half, but with no timeouts left, they had to watch the clock run out with nothing to show for it.
A fumble by Carlson near the Chargers' 40-yard line set up the Bears with good field position late in the third quarter. The Brandon-Evansville defense had an answer all night as the Chargers forced a three-and-out on that ensuing drive.
Six total turnovers hurt Bertha-Hewitt. The fifth of those B-E takeaways came on a fumble deep in Bears' territory early in the fourth quarter that turned into a 12-yard Bitzan touchdown run for a 22-0 lead after the Carlson two-point conversion.
"We got guys who can wrap up. We have guys who can tackle, and we just keep clubbing the ball," Bitzan said of the six takeaways. "Go for the tackle, wrap up and then go for the ball."
This is a Chargers team that is working to get kids experience at the varsity level. After averaging almost 41 points-per game a year ago, this group is fine with relying on its defense early as its offense works to get going.
"Five, six years ago, we put in this defense specifically to stop teams with this run heavy way teams do it around here," Pattrin said. "Linemen came to play today. The linebackers were reading better. We had some early-season jitters last week and guys looking in the backfield, not following their keys. Today was better."
The Chargers have 10 days between games now. They will travel to Kelliher on Oct. 24 for a 3 p.m. contest against the North Central Stars (1-0) out of the Section 8, 9-man field.
The Stars are a co-op north of Bemidji that went 10-1 a year ago. The Chargers have never played them before, but they are excited to see how they stack up against what should be another good team.
"They run a straight-T (offense), everybody is in a box," Pattrin said. "They hide the ball well, so we’re really going to have to focus on our keys. They come off the ball hard. We have to match intensity and physicality with them."
BRANDON-EVANSVILLE 14 0 0 8 - 22
BERTHA-HEWITT 0 0 0 0 - 0
SCORING - FIRST QUARTER - B-E - Cade Carlson 2-yard run; Carlson two-point conversion; B-E - Tyler Bitzan 21-yard run; Two-point conversion no good
SECOND QUARTER - No scoring
THIRD QUARTER - No scoring
FOURTH QUARTER - B-E - Bitzan 12-yard run; Carlson two-point conversion run