Huskies go to the air
BLOOMSBURG - What was already a festive Homecoming Weekend at Bloomsburg University turned into a personal coming out party Saturday before more than 5,000 fans at Redman Stadium by quarterback Tim Kelly, the redshirt freshman from Cedar Cliff High.
For weeks, first-year quarterbacks coach Jack Lydic, of Selinsgrove, himself a former Husky, has said Kelly was getting more comfortable learning the passing game. All he needed was an opportunity to show what he could do.
That opportunity came against Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Eastern Division rival East Stroudsburg, and Kelly responded by completing 12-of-16 passes for 267 yards and four touchdowns without an interception in a 48-27 victory.
It was a performance that was needed by the sixth-ranked Huskies (7-0, 4-0 PSAC) in order to take the burden of carrying the offense off junior running back Franklyn Quiteh from Pocono Mountain West.
Quiteh, who usually splits playing time with junior Eddie Mateo from Bethlehem Freedom, was the only experienced tailback in uniform against the Warriors (3-3, 2-2). According to coach Danny Hale, Mateo missed practice Friday to take care of family business at home, but, per team rules, sat out the game.
Already the third all-time leading rusher at Bloomsburg, Quiteh needed just 40 yards to become the first back in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in his first three seasons. He passed that mark in the first quarter and went on to carry the ball 43 times for 282 yards - which is 18 yards off the single-game record of 300 set by Jerry Marks of Southern Columbia in 1991 - and scored three touchdowns.
"We told Franklyn his role would be increased today, and we would be looking for him to do a little more than usual," Hale said. "They were getting some solid licks on him, but he's the kind of back who gets stronger and he was just loading up for a big finish."
That big finish came in the form of two, fourth-quarter touchdown runs, the first covering 40 yards to cap an eight-play, 75-yard drive to make the score 34-20. His final touchdown came on a 20-yard run to cap a seven-play, 51-yard drive that was the shortest of the game by the Huskies.
"As well as Franklyn played, he needed to have some help, and today Tim stepped up and played the way he is capable of playing," Hale said. "We know that we've got to back people out of the box and keep them from packing it in to stop the running game.
"Tim did a great job of reading the defenses and an even better job in making some big plays in tough (windy) conditions. What really helped was he did it not just with his arm, but he also made some big plays with his legs."
In addition to completing passes to six different receivers, including three who caught touchdowns, Kelly carried the ball three times for 38 yards. His biggest run came after a holding penalty negated a 13-yard touchdown run when he ran for 23 yards and a first-and-goal at the 10, setting up his five-yard touchdown pass to 6-7 former basketball standout Larry Webster for a 14-3 lead.
"It's not like we planned to throw the ball as much as we did, but we knew they would try to take away the running game," Kelly said. "We wanted to stay with the run, but we also knew they would try to play our receivers one-one-one and there would be some plays we could make."
Two of those big plays were touchdown passes to junior wide receiver Glenn Hutton Jr., who opened the third quarter with a 37-yard touchdown catch for a 21-10 lead and cap a 12-play, 75-yard drive. Later in the third quarter, Hutton and Kelly combined on a 68-yard touchdown pass for a 28-17 lead on the second play of a 75-yard drive.
In the fourth quarter, the Huskies had their longest scoring play of the game, a 72-yard pass from Kelly to Ryan Dickerson for a 41-20 lead and cap a five-play, 89-yard drive. Together, Hutton and Dickerson divided eight receptions for a combined total of 237 yards.
East Stroudsburg attempted to keep the Husky offense off the field by scrapping its usual passing attack and controlling the ball on the ground in the first half. That approach kept the Warriors with 14-10 at halftime.
In addition to the pass from Kelly to Webster that capped an eight-play, 75-yard drive, Bloomsburg scored on a one-yard run by Quiteh to cap a 14-play, 76-yard drive.
Matt Soltes completed 13-of-25 passes for 167 yards, including a touchdown to Robert Bieller, but the Warriors were stymied on the ground. They finished with just 132 yards on 34 carries, and Soltes was the leading rusher with 54 yards on 14 carries.