FLINTON - Like every other high school football team that was starting its 2012 season Friday night, Northern Bedford spent some time shaking off the opening-night jitters, rust and cobwebs.
On balance, however, veteran Black Panthers coach Jeff Batzel had to be very happy with what he saw from his team on both sides of the ball in a 20-13 Inter-County Conference non-section victory over Glendale at Dr. Roy F. Baker Field.
Blake Over, a 6-foot-4, 175-pound junior quarterback with impressive skills both passing the football and moving with it, enjoyed a stellar varsity debut, completing 18 of 30 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns.
Over spread the wealth around, too, hitting junior wideout Kyler Diehl eight times for 185 yards, and senior twin brothers Tayler and Zach Pressel both four times apiece for 35 and 29 yards, respectively. Diehl caught a 40-yard scoring pass from Over in the third quarter and Tayler Pressel nabbed a 12-yard TD pass right before intermission as Northern overcame first-half deficits of 7-0 and 13-6.
As sharp as the Black Panthers' passing game was, however, it was NB's defense that saved the night, stopping Glendale twice inside the red zone in the final six minutes of play to preserve the victory.
"Our defense played outstanding,'' Batzel said. "When [Glendale] got inside the red zone, our defense shut the door.''
Clinging to a 20-13 lead, Northern Bedford turned the ball over with 6:31 left when Glendale senior defensive back Doug Twigg made his fourth interception of the night, a sliding pick at the NB 18.
Northern's run defense pushed Glendale back six yards, setting up a fourth-down pass from Witherow to Twigg that senior defensive back Jourdan Miller broke up in the right corner of the end zone with 4:29 left.
"Jourdan did a nice job of stripping that ball,'' Batzel said of Miller, who picked off two other passes in the game. "He had a heck of a game defensively.''
With Witherow hitting Twigg on a 30-yard pass route, Glendale threatened again in the final minutes. The Vikings moved from their own 30 to Northern Bedford's 12 as time wound down. Glendale faced a fourth-and-five at the NB 8 when the Black Panthers stopped Glendale senior quarterback Gary Witherow short of the first down after a 3-yard run to the 5.
"We were planning to throw, but they had the end zone covered, and he had to tuck it,'' first-year Glendale coach Matt Irvine said of Witherow. "I'm happy with the way our guys picked it up at the end tonight, but against a team the caliber of Northern Bedford, you have to be able to play four full quarters. We're going to be working on that moving forward.''
Northern Bedford's Over was admittedly nervous at the beginning of the game, but played very well once he settled down.
"I had to get over my nerves at the beginning,'' Over said. "I was throwing the ball over my receivers. But I calmed down and I began seeing the field, and my receivers helped a lot.''
Diehl got free in the secondary just over three minutes into the third quarter, beating a fallen Glendale defender and turning an Over pass into the 40-yard touchdown play.
Glendale started off strong, after Chris Wilson blocked a Northern Bedford field goal attempt at the 5 midway through the second quarter. On the Vikings' very first play from scrimmage, bullish senior running back Damon Braniff broke free off left tackle and sped 95 yards down the left sideline for the game's opening touchdown.
Northern answered that score after putting together a 53-yard, 10-play drive that senior back Conner Kagarise polished off with a 5-yard run.
Twigg took the ensuing kickoff 73 yards to the end zone for Glendale's second touchdown of the night and a 13-6 Vikings' lead, but Northern responded gamely behind Over, driving 73 yards to take a 14-13 halftime lead. Over hit Diehl with three passes totaling 61 yards on the drive, then found Tayler Pressel with the 12-yard scoring pass. Over also hit Pressel on a 2-point conversion pass following the touchdown.
"Overall, he handled himself very well tonight,'' Batzel said of Over. "He made a couple nice adjustments. This was a great team effort. I'm very proud of our team. We beat a good football team tonight.''
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Northern Bedford0 14 6 0 - 20
Glendale0 13 0 0 - 13
G-Braniff 95 run (Witherow kick), 6:18.
NB-Kagarise 5 run (kick failed), 1:21.
G-Twigg 73 kickoff return (kick failed), 1:07.
NB-T. Pressel 12 pass from Over (T. Pressel pass from Over), :18
NB-Diehl 40 pass from Over (kick failed), 8:43.
RUSHING: Northern Bedford-Kagarise 21-77, Ebersole 14-48, Z. Pressel 1-0, Over 2-(-16), Team 1-(-7). Glendale-Braniff 15-130, Twigg 4-19, Witherow 13-5, Team 1-0.
PASSING: Northern Bedford-Over 18-30-4-290. Glendale-Witherow 4-13-2-55.
RECEIVING: Northern Bedford-Diehl 8-185, T. Pressel 4-35, Z. Pressel 4-29, Miller 1-29, Ebersole 1-12. Glendale-Bantly 2-14, Hommer 1-10, Twigg 1-31.
INTERCEPTIONS: Northern Bedford 2-Miller 2. Glendale 4-Twigg 4.