By Rob Potter
GLEN SPEY The Eldred Yellowjackets used their powerful running game to record their fourth straight victory of the gridiron season on Saturday afternoon.
Eldred rushed for 357 yards on its way to a 40-21 non-league victory over visiting Spackenkill at Brookwood Camps near Glen Spey.
With senior quarterback Bryan Henry completing 5-of-8 passes for 101 yards, the Yellowjackets’ offense gained a total of 458 yards. Eldred has accumulated at least 400 yards of total offense in every game this season on its way to posting a perfect 4-0 record.
The Yellowjackets took a 7-0 lead just one minute into the game as Henry threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Matt Balcom and Bob Warden sent the PAT kick straight through the uprights.
But the Spartans answered quickly as Mark Letus fielded the subsequent kickoff deep in his own territory, sprinted up the middle of the field and outran everyone for a 94-yard touchdown.
Letus then caught a two-point conversion pass from Nick Contelmo to give Spackenkill (0-4) an 8-7 advantage with 10:44 left in the opening quarter.
However, Eldred needed just three plays to regain the lead.
Facing a third-and-10 at its own 36 yard-line, Henry gave his team momentum and the advantage on the scoreboard when he ran for a 64-yard TD. Warden’s extra-point kick gave the Yellowjackets a 14-8 lead with 10:14 remaining in the quarter.
Ian Halloran scored on a 1-yard run early in the second quarter to extend the Eldred lead to 20-8.
With 5:35 left until halftime, Spackenkill pulled to within five points at 20-15 thanks to a 10-yard TD pass from K.J. Williams to Letus and Ryan Cox’s extra-point kick.
Eldred countered with a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive which ended with Jordan Tice’s 3-yard run into the end zone. Warden’s extra-point kick gave the Yellowjackets a 27-15 halftime lead.
The only score of the third quarter was Henry’s 3-yard TD run.
In the fourth quarter, Halloran gave the Yellowjackets a 40-15 advantage when he broke a least two tackles on a 25-yard run to paydirt.
Marcus Rawles scored the Spartans’ final touchdown on a 29-yard run with 2:27 remaining.
“The line did a great job of blocking today,” said Halloran, who led the Yellowjackets with 121 yards on 17 carries. “The holes were so big it was impossible not to get through them and gain some yards.
“This was a big win,” added the senior running back/linebacker.
Also contributing to the Eldred rushing attack were Henry (nine carries for 82 yards), Tice (nine carries for 80 yards), Warden (one rush for 47 yards), Shawn Berger (eight rushes for 42 yards) and Charles Wolff (four carries for 27 yards).
“We like to grind it out on the ground because it sets up our passing game,” Eldred Coach Frank Kean said. “I was very impressed with our 80-yard drive for a touchdown right before halftime. I think it was the key drive of the game.
“The line blocked very well,” he added.
The veteran coach noted that only aspect of the game he was not pleased with was tackling.
“Our tackling was terrible,” he said. “We have to improve on that.”
Kean praised his defense for making four interceptions. Junior linebacker Dylan Kulik picked off two of those Spartans’ passes.
“He did a nice job,” Kean said of Kulik, who also made eight solo tackles and an assisted tackle.
Berger and Henry had the other interceptions for the Yellowjackets.
“I think we played hard, but Eldred executed better than we did,” Spackenkill Coach Don Neise said.
Neise noted that those four interceptions did not help his team’s cause.
“You can’t keep turning the ball over to the other team,” he said. “It’s not a recipe for success.”