RICHWOOD, Ohio – Swanton used a strong defense to hold off North Union and win coach Randy Kerns’ Bulldog debut 13-7 on Friday. Swanton mustered just 115 total yards, but two second quarter touchdowns were enough to secure the win.
“It was an unbelievable ball game to be a part of. It was an old school, throw back style football game between teams with almost the same schemes in every aspect,” said Kerns. “North Union is a good program and has one heck of a team this year.”
Hunter Mix started the scoring with a 25 yard touchdown run with 6:40 left in the second quarter for a 7-0 Swanton advantage.
The Bulldog defense then forced a Wildcat fourth down. The punt was knocked down at the line, setting up Swanton with good field position.
They took advantage as Gage Pachlhofer ran to pay dirt from 18 yards out. The point after try failed and the Bulldogs were ahead 13-0 with 2:40 remaining in the first half.
A big play on a late drive allowed North Union to close the gap. Anthony Padovano found Harley Day for a 40-yard scoring strike to trim the Swanton lead to 13-7 with under 30 seconds left.
In the second half neither team could dent the scoreboard. Several drives stalled due to miscues such as turnovers or fumbles.
Swanton tried to put the game away late with Michael Lawniczak picking up a key first on fourth down. But two straight penalties backed the Bulldogs up and they were forced to punt.
Although the drive stalled, Swanton ran the clock down under 2 minutes, forcing North Union, a run-first team, to pass the ball. Padovano completed some passes before a holding call eventually left them with a fourth and long.
Noah Saunders intercepted the fourth down pass for Swanton, sealing the season opening win for the Bulldogs.
“Our defense was outstanding,” said Kerns. “We were opportunistic and made big plays when we had to.
He wasn’t as pleased with the offensive output.
“We were out muscled at the line of scrimmage, and had trouble getting a push all night,” said Kerns. “But again, credit that to North Union. But we did have players like Gage Pachlhofer and Hunter Mix make big plays for us when we desperately needed them. It was tough sledding for Michael inside all game, but to his credit he was there to get the tough first downs in the fourth when we needed him to close it out.”
Swanton was outgained in total yards 245-115 on the night.
Pachlhofer led the Bulldogs on the ground with 57 yards on 12 carries. Swanton quarterback Dylan Gilsdorf completed two passes for 10 yards.
“The game ended up being decided by special teams and turnovers, and credit our kids with being solid in these areas,” Kerns said. “We won the turnover battle 3-0, and got a big blocked punt. That was the difference.
“Overall, I’m excited to get our first win. The kids played really hard, and stayed on the course and pulled it out. I was extremely proud of our effort.”
The Bulldogs will take to the road again for week two, although the bus ride will be much shorter. Swanton travels to Start on Friday. The Division I Spartans are 0-1 after dropping a 17-14 decision to Clyde in the opener. The home opener is Sept. 8 against Rogers.