ITHACA — Austin Kast celebrated his 18th birthday with a picture perfect touchdown reception, a blocked punt to set up a touchdown and a bone-crunching block to produce another as the Ithaca Bulldogs overwhelmed the Seneca/Wauzeka-Steuben Blue-Golds, 55-12, at Ithaca Friday night.
Senior quarterback Joey Clary threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers in the rout.
The Bulldogs scored five touchdowns in the first quarter enroute to their fourth straight win although it may prove to be a major loss. The Bulldogs versatile senior Caleb Olson suffered a leg injury late in the first quarter.
Ithaca stormed to its fourth straight win and improved to 2-0 atop the Ridge and Valley Conference.
The Seneca/Wauzeka-Steuben cooperative team, with 31 freshmen and sophomores among 42 players on the roster, dropped its fourth straight game. The Blue Golds are 0-1 in Ridge & Valley Conference action.
“I was very happy,” said coach Chad Clary of his team’s performance. He also admitted he was even happier when he learned that Olson’s injury is not expected to be as serious as feared. Clary said his availability this week is questionable but he should be able to play soon.
Reflecting on his team’s efficiency, Clary said the Bulldogs ran only 11 offensive plays with the varsity (starters) players. They scored on six, and there were two incomplete passes.
Cody Klossowski and Hunter Dischler each scored twice. Kast, Luke Oelke, and Nolan Clary also found the end zone in the first half. Freshman Cade Netteshiem produced Ithaca’s only touchdown in the second half.
While the Bulldogs’ offense proved prolific, their defense was equally dominant. S/WS did not have a first down in the first half.
After S/WS went three-and-out, a shanked punt gave Ithaca the ball in S/WS territory. On the first play, Joey Clary lofted a perfect pass to Kast, who was streaking down the sideline – a 42-yard scoring play. “We saw something on the film we wanted to try to exploit,” said coach Clary, who said he had no knowledge that Kast was celebrating his 18th birthday.
Clary threw to Olson for the conversion with 10:31 left in the first quarter.
Before the Bulldogs’ offense was back on the field, the lead swelled to 16-0. Forced to punt again, the Bulldogs’ special teams struck. Klossowski fielded the kick at the Ithaca 45, broke through the first wave of tacklers, picked up a key block, and outran everyone on a 55-yard punt return. Klossowski also ran for the conversion for a 16-0 lead with 8:26 remaining.
Kast blocked the next S/WS and Ithaca took over. One play later, Clary flipped a two-yard scoring pass to Klossowski. The conversion was botched due to a fumble, but Ithaca had a 22-0 lead with 6:19 remaining.
The Bulldogs needed two plays to score their fourth touchdown. Dischler swept right for a 14-yard touchdown, and Kast’s kick gave Ithaca a 29-0 lead with 4:15 remaining.
Olson was injured on defense during the next series. The Blue Golds gambled – and lost – on fourth down. Three plays later, Clary flipped a short pass to Oelke who turned it into a long gainer. The 32-yard scoring play with 1:36 left gave the Bulldogs a 35-0 lead after the conversion kick was blocked.
As the second quarter opened, Ithaca went 60 yards in three plays to score again. Dischler broke free up the middle and outran the secondary on a 55-yard scoring play but Netteshiem was stopped on the Bulldogs’ bid for the conversion with 9:30 left.
Yet another three-and-out for S/WS led to another Ithaca touchdown. With 3:40 left in the first half, Joey Clary hooked up with Nolan Clary on a pass that became a 63-yard scoring pass when Kast decleated the final S/WS tackler.
Again the Bulldogs’ conversion failed, but they took a 47-0 lead into the locker room at the half.
With the clock running continuously and Bulldog starters watching, the third quarter was scoreless. Aaron Huebsch recovered a fumble, but S/WS stopped Netteshiem on fourth down.
Starting the fourth quarter, S/WS struck through the air. Brady Fernette threw a 60-yard scoring pass to Isaac Byrne with 9:55 left, but the conversion failed.
Ithaca responded with a drive that was culminated by a three-yard scoring run by Netteshiem with 5:40 left. Caden Moser ran for the conversion giving the Bulldogs their first 50-point scoring effort of the season.
S/WS scored again with 2:18 left as Noah Allan raced 50 yards, but the conversion failed.
Ithaca passed for 151 yards. Clary was four of six for 141 yards, and Huebsch one of one for 10. In addition to four scoring passes, Michael Mueller caught one pass for 10 yards. Ithaca rushed 25 times for 180 yards. Starters accounted for relatively few yards. Dischler had two carries for 69 yards, Klossowski one for 26 and Ross Ghastin one for five. Moser gained 47 yards on 10 carries, Netteshiem 24 on eight attempts and Josiah Jongquist five on one.
Seneca finished with 84 rushing yards and 60 through the air – most in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs will host Southern Door at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The non-conference battle looms as a formidable challenge for the Bulldogs.
“We’ll get tested this week,” said coach Clary of the school that is three times the size of Ithaca. “Southern Door has a very good team. They’re 3-1 having lost only to Winneconne, a perennial power, and they’re leading the Packerland Conference. It’s mid-season, a good time for us to see where we’re at. It will be a challenge.”
Clary said Southern Door has a good passing attack. Mitch Gerend, a 6-3 senior wideout, already has caught 35 passes. Junior quarterback Nick LaCaptain has completed over 70 percent of his passes for 730 yards in four games. Tory Jandrin has rushed for 285 yards, and Derik LaCaptain has run for 181.