JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP – The Bradford Railroaders, a well-oiled machine, operated on all cylinders Friday night as they pitched a near shutout at Jefferson.
The temperature went from summer to autumn as the sun quickly set. The Railroaders took the field to receive opening kickoff with a chill in the air, but fire in their hearts.
The offense, led by junior quarterback Andrew Branson and his three-headed running back attack of Dillon Reck, Mason Justice and Hunter Penkal, mastered a beautiful scoring drive behind crisp blocking from the offensive line and receivers.
They marched from their own 32 yard line – combining for 39 yards rushing and 29 yards passing – ending with Reck up the gut and into the end zone. Penkal scored the two-point conversion, making the score 8-0.
“We weren’t sure early in the week if the kids were focused to play,” Bradford football coach Dave McFeely said. “They played really well.”
Dayton Jefferson received the ball at the 9:00 mark of the first quarter but was unable to move the ball, losing 10 yards on two carries followed by an incompletion.
Bradford crafted another beautiful drive to follow, including a 24-yard run on fourth and 9 by Penkal, but unfortunately left points on the board when it turned the ball over on downs near the end zone.
When Jefferson received the ball with 1:25 left in the first, the Broncos lost 1 yard rushing, 5 yards passing and were tackled one inch out of their own end zone – a questionable call by the refs who argued it wasn’t a safety.
Bradford cared little for the blown call by the refs. The Railroaders took the ball at the beginning of the second quarter and churned another brilliant rushing drive, ending in another Reck touchdown. With the two-point conversation good, Bradford held a steady lead 16-0.
Following another Jefferson punt and Reck’s third touchdown of the half, Bradford forced Jefferson to turn the ball over on downs and lit up the scoreboard one more time with 1:42 left in the half with a beautiful bomb from Branson to wide receiver Dailaquan Millhouse for 45 yards for the score.
The Railroaders went into the locker room at halftime up 31-0.
“Thirty-one points in the first half, you know, we couldn’t be prouder,” Coach McFeely said. “That’s two wins in a row for us, and we got a big game coming up next Friday. And … and I know that’s going to be a tough one.”
With the accelerated clocking running in the second half, Bradford didn’t get the ball until there was 1:06 left in the third quarter after a 13-play drive from Jefferson that ended with an interception.
Bradford moved the ball some, punting when necessary, careful to play the field-position game that had gifted the Railroaders so many short scoring opportunities.
On the second-to-last play of the game, Bradford had an error backed up against its own goal line, which gave Jefferson a safety. Other than that, Bradford played like a team possessed with the will to win.
Coach McFeely couldn’t stop praising his team: “I really was proud of the way the kids played. They came right out and executed the game plan perfectly – offensively, defensively, special teams – and you’ve gotta give all the credit to those kids and to the coaches. They’ve really gelled together since the first part of this season.”
Bradford, which is now 2-5 with back-to-back wins, will now go on to face Tri-Village on Friday in Bradford.