ESSEX – On a night the Essex Hornets executed well overall, senior Brendan Gleason was exceptionally good.
Gleason rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns, caught a 57-yard touchdown pass and intercepted two BFA-St. Albans throws as the Hornets cruised to a 42-14 victory over the Bobwhites Friday evening.
The Hornets (2-1) repelled a game-opening BFA drive, stuffed another Bobwhite push on downs at the Essex 6 and turned a 14-0 halftime score into a 35-7 lead in the third quarter.
In addition’s to Gleason’s all-around performance, Essex running back Joey Robertson supplied 89 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns while lineman Alex Russell, so instrumental in opening holes for Gleason and Robertson, accounted for the game’s first touchdown on a 1-yard power drive.
“It’s easy running the ball when you’ve got the guys up front moving them around, making big holes, so I give credit to those guys and our defense was stingy all night long and that’s what helped me be in the right spots to get the picks,” Gleason said.
“We’ve got a great committee, Joey Robertson, Cody Green, Andrew Lounsbury and a couple of others. We’re always switching out, we’re always staying fresh and it helps us keep going hard all night,” Gleason said of the Essex stable of runners.
After a season-opening loss to Middlebury and a narrow come-from-behind victory against CVU, the Hornets wanted and needed this type of performance and they got it.
“The kids executed well in all three phases of the game. We weren’t perfect but we were consistently good and it was enough to get us out in front and stay out in front,” head coach Charlie Burnett said.
Of Gleason, Burnett said, “He’s so fast and dangerous with the ball in his hands but some big seams opened up because the boys up front.
“We made it a big theme about getting our assignments down and giving those athletes a chance. They did that and I was really proud of them, Alex Russell, Cole Picard, Kevin Svarczkopf, the way those guys handled their side of the line, it opened things right up,” Burnett said.
BFA received the opening kickoff and powered downfield on the running of Joel Parady (25 carriers, 105 yards, touchdown), but stalled at the Essex 32. Robert Kelly’s 50-yard field goal attempt was long enough but wide.
With Robertson handling most of the ball carrying, Essex responded with an 80-yard drive, Russell finishing it off at 4:41. Following a punt by BFA, Essex quarterback Eli DiGrande promptly hit Gleason with a 57-yard touchdown pass for the 14-0 halftime lead.
Gleason opened the second half with runs of 32 and 39 yards and Essex led 21-0. After Parady scored his first TD in the third, the Hornets’ Gleason (4 run) and Robertson (3 run) pushed the Essex lead to 35-7. Robertson (2 run) and Anthony Clark (4 run; 13 carries, 62 yards, touchdown) finished the scoring.
“Against CVU and Middlebury, we came out slow. Tonight we came out and we were firing all night long. We never looked back,” Gleason said.
“We’ve learned a lot about how to play low, how to play a solid ground game of football that hasn’t been our thing here for a number of years. It’s taken some adjusting to,” Burnett said. “More important than the offensive side, I think the defense has gotten more comfortable. You saw it tonight, two or three bend-but-don’t-break situations, sort of classic Essex-style D and we’re settling into that mode.”