With ominous weather looming in the weekend forecast, Highland senior running back Brady Feldmann thought the Bulldogs might turn to a time-eating ground game in order to keep the clock ticking ahead of the rain.
With just 13 carries, he helped give Highland early command of their season opener against Marion.
Feldmann rushed for 104 yards and four touchdowns to lead the unbeaten Bulldogs to a 49-14 victory Friday.
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Thanks to a short field set up by a 10-yard Dylan Aptken interception return, Feldmann got to show his running skills early.
Feldmann broke 10 yards off left end to give Highland a quick 7-0 lead.
The Bulldogs struck again late in the first quarter as quarterback Jack Etter and Sam LaPorta connected on a 32-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0 with 14.2 second left in the quarter.
“That was awesome,” Feldmann said of the quick start. “That big start was everything, We get the other team down and we just keep going from there.”
After a quiet first quarter, Marion got its offense clicking as quarterback senior Boston Ziegler scored on a 3-yard keeper, cutting the lead to 14-7 with 5:32 left in the half.
Feldmann answered for the Bulldogs with his second touchdown of the night, a 3-yard run with 1:59 left in the half.
With the short clock, Marion (2-1) drove from its own 23 to the Highland 15. A third-down sack of Ziegler by Highland senior defensive back Jake Kruse followed by an incomplete pass on fourth down put a stop to the Wildcats’ drive.
It was a key defensive stop said Highland coach Jim Warnecke.
“Marion’s a helluva football program and they’ve proven that over the last 10, 15 years,” coach Jim Warnecke said. “I thought skill-wise we had the edge, but up front they had some big boys that were tough to move. That stop late in the half was big.”
Highland (3-0) added four more touchdowns in the second half including Feldmann’s 32-yard run and 57-yard pass reception from Etter.
Etter shook off a slow start and finished 15 of 21 passing for 272 yards and three touchdowns.
LaPorta, the Bulldogs’ super senior wideout, had another monster game with 140 yards on nine catches and two scores.
“I thought Jack did a good job tonight and I thought we had some good balance in the pass and run. We kept them off balance in down and distance situations,” Warnecke said. “Sam is the guy that gets a lot of credit and he’s our dude, but we’ve got a lot of dudes. If they start doubling him up, we’ve got other guys that can do a great job.”
Highland moves into Mississippi Valley Conference play this week with a 7 p.m. game on Friday at Jerseyville.