Two early turnovers kept Beachwood’s offense in check but the Bison exploded in the second half to pull away from Richmond Heights in a 46-27 win on Friday.
Nate Hamilton caught a touchdown pass and ran for another score and Max Balazs threw for four scores in the win.
“In the first half we played a little sloppy,” said Beachwood coach Mike Gibbons. “We had two early turnovers but we did score on a 95-yard pop pass to Cameron Mack but we had a fumbled punt return and a fumble on an exchange. Because of the turnovers we probably only had 10 plays in the first half. We weren’t able to sustain drives.”
While the Bison had trouble putting together drives, they did score on the big play from Balazs to Mack then added a 24-yard touchdown pass from Balazs to Tyler Hines and Greg Johnson returned a fumble 54 yards for another score to put Beachwood up 18-13 at halftime.
Hamilton made it 24-13 when he caught a 33-yard touchdown pass but the Spartans responded with a score to close Beachwood’s lead to just six points heading into the final 12 minutes of play.
The Bison dominated the closing minutes with 22 straight points to put the game away.
“In the second half we came out and played better defensively, getting off the field on third down, and offensively we were able to mix it up,” Gibbons said.
Hamilton opened the scoring with a 22-yard touchdown run and Balazs then connected with Hines again, this time for a 1-yard scoring pass. Balazs would later run for a 12-yard touchdown to increase Beachwood’s lead to 48-20.
“We were hanging onto the ball and not having turnovers was big,” Gibbons said. “We ended up getting a two touchdown lead and kind of piled it on in the fourth quarter. We just sustained drives and defensively we played pretty well.”
The win was the fourth straight for the Bison, who improved to 4-3 overall and 2-0 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Metro Division. The Bison can clinch their second straight conference title with a win over Cuyahoga Heights on Saturday.
“I think we’re in a good place right now,” Gibbons said. “We have a huge game coming up this week with Cuyahoga Heights and the kids started talking about it right after the game. It’s for the conference championship. We wanted to repeat, that was one of our main goals. This week is going to be a really big week for us.”