By Matt Beltz
For The Daily Item
MONTGOMERY — Back in August at Warrior Run’s preseason media day, Defenders coach Mark Burrows talked about establishing the running game and how that would be a key to his team’s season, especially early.
His words proved to be true as the Defenders have struggled running the ball all season and that is chief among the reasons Warrior Run entered its week-8 game against Montgomery with on 0-7 record. While the Defenders’ difficulties in the run game continued at Montgomery on Friday, quarterback Hunter Raup stepped it up with the passing game and Warrior Run’s defense also turned in an outstanding performance to make up for the lack of a ground game as the Defenders picked up their first win of the season, 25-9 over the Red Raiders.
“The defense played well all night. Our offense definitely spurred (us) in the last two-and-a-half quarter,” Burrows said.
“We just can’t get the running game going. It’s week 8 and we’re still trying to get the running game going. Some of that can be attributed to kids playing all over the place. Sometimes we bring three different jerseys for some kids. We’re moving kids around every week. Passing-wise, we were where we needed to be. If we can give (Hunter) time, he can throw.”
Raup threw for 175 yards and three touchdowns. He completed just 10-of-27 passes but four went for more than 20 yards as the Defenders raced out to an early lead and never looked back. Nine of Warrior Run’s 11 total completions came in the first half, including a 16-yard completion on a fake punt from Frank James to Jake Rohm, which set up Warrior Run’s first touchdown.
Leading 2-0 after notching a safety on Montgomery’s first possession, the Defenders were stopped on the Montgomery 47 on fourth down. But James, the punter and second-string quarterback, found a streaking Rohm down the middle for a 31-yard pickup to set up Warrior Run at the Montgomery 16. Four plays later, Raup found Rohm in the end zone from 12 yards out to put Warrior Run up 9-0. Rohm had a nice game receiving as he hauled in four passes for 71 yards and a TD.
“He (Rohm) wasn’t covered. The first time we punted he wasn’t covered and we were going to punt again and they didn’t cover him again,” Burrows said. “We told the punter if he wasn’t covered to throw him the ball and that’s exactly what happened.”
The Defenders forced a Montgomery punt on the Red Raiders’ ensuing possession and from there needed just two plays to get their second TD. Zach Burrows broke loose up the middle for a 57-yard run and then Raup tossed his second TD, this one to Andrew Gummo for 16 yards to make it 16-0. Gummo also turned in a solid performance as he caught five passes for 95 yards and a pair of scores after moving to receiver from the offensive line for the night.
Warrior Run picked up its second safety on Montgomery’s next possession as a bad snap on a punt went out of the end zone. Later in the first half, Warrior Run wrapped up its scoring as Gummo hauled in his second TD from Raup for four yards.
The second half was relatively uneventful as neither team was able to put together any sustained drives until the final possession by Montgomery. Tyler Betz, who finished with 109 yards on the ground, scored on game’s final play.
Warrior Run turned in its best defensive effort of the year as the Defenders held Montgomery to just 118 yards of total offense, including only 19 in the first half.
“I’m glad for the kids. We’ve gotten beaten around and battered all year long so it’s good that they finally got a win under their belt,” Burrows said.