Over the past couple seasons the Nazareth and Pleasant Valley openers have been good ole' fashioned shootouts.
There was a combined 78 points scored between the two team's a year ago, but this time around offense was not easy to come by. Both teams didn't look comfortable early, but it was Nazareth that found some consistency on offense and also put in a solid defensive effort, taming the Bears for a 31-9 victory.
Pleasant Valley didn't look good from the start. The Bears punted the ball on their first five possessions of the ball game and never could get anything started offensively.
On the other hand The Blue Eagles reeled off a 10 play offensive drive on their first possession marching it 64 yards down the field for the score. The drive was capped off by a 12 yard touchdown run by Jordan Gray.
Gray, who rushed for 1,000 yards last season was a blue blur on the night for Nazareth, rushing 17 times for 101 yards and two scores. Gray also took a screen pass and ran it 60 yards to pay dirt.
Nazareth's offense started to click on all cylinders once Gray started touching the ball, but it was their defense that really stole the show in the first half. The Blue Eagles "D" was in veteran Pleasant Valley quarterback Brandon Leap's face all night and he had problems locating receivers.
There were a number of things that went wrong for the Bears in the first half, but coach Jim Terwilliger believes it was their sloppy and undisciplined play that cost them early.
"It was a very slopping showing here in our opening night," said Terwilliger. "We have a lot of kinks we need to work out and I'm not happy with how we played, but I did see some positives that we can build off of. We just need to clean up some of the discipline issues with our penalties and assignments. We're a talented group and we have some guys that can make some things happen, we just need to clean up some discipline issues and we most definitely will."
It also didn't help the Bears cause that their dynamic running back Austin Borre couldn't get things going either. Borre, a 1,000 yard rusher from a year ago managed to gain just 64 yards, and with Leap only throwing for 103 yards it's to see why the Blue Eagles came away with the win. Offensive production is something else Terwilliger mentioned has to improve in the weeks to come.
"Offensively we definitely need to move the ball better," said Terwilliger. "We need to be more consistent completing passes and also staying on blocks. We were just inconsistent all night, and with a young football team playing against a good opponent, you have to be more consistent up front. I really believe it all starts up there for us."
After their 13-0 lead at the half, Nazareth tacked on three more touchdowns, continuing to hold the Pleasant Valley's offense in check.
Besides not having an answer for Gray the Bears had a tough time dealing with Blue Eagles quarterback Spencer King. The Nazareth signal caller passed for 263 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bears were eventually able to get on the scoreboard, getting a safety on a mishandled Nazareth punt in the fourth, along with Borre taking one in from eight yards out at the 10:46 mark.
"We just have to give guys game experience," said Terwilliger. "Sometimes you have to take your lumps to get better and tonight was a learning opportunity for our guys and we can build off of it."