THREE SPRINGS - When he allowed himself to look over the schedule in the preseason, Northern Bedford coach Jeff Batzel thought he'd have a good team.
Did he figure it would be 5-0 midway through the season?
"No, not 5-0," he said. "I'm very happy. The kids have really improved since our scrimmages, and even our first game [a 20-13 win over Glendale]. We just sort of turned it on after that first win, and we've been playing pretty well ever since.
"These kids get along well together. They have gelled together. They are unselfish. We take what defenses give us. Different guys are the heroes, and have the stats different nights. They're playing very well as a team. We've got a lot of go-to guys, and sometimes there's not enough footballs to go around."
The consistent go-to guy has been 6-foot-4 junior quarterback Blake Over, the area's passing leader who completed 11 of his 14 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns.
He added a 45-yard scoring run to go with Conner Kagarise's three rushing TDs and a stifling defense to lift the Panthers to a 40-7 win over the winless Rockets on homecoming night at Rocket Field and a 5-0 mark.
Over was 10-of-13 in the first half for 113 yards, and his only pass in the second half was a 35-yard touchdown pass to Drew Gartland on fourth-and-one on NBC's first series of the second half. It put the mercy rule into effect and allowed Batzel to rest Over the rest of the game.
Over now has completed 61 of his 99 passes (61.6 completion percentage) for 931 yards.
"He's been over 50 percent, and I wouldn't be surprised if he was over 70 percent tonight," Batzel said. "He understands the window of opportunity, and he keeps the play alive, which is the nice thing about him. A couple times, they got some hands on his jersey, and he kept the play alive and made a pass."
"I thought we did a pretty good job in the first half of shutting down their run game," Southern coach Ryan Garlock said, "and then they started throwing. I knew we were going to struggle."
Kagarise, who ran for 81 yards on 17 carries, scored his first touchdown on the opening series, taking a pitch from Over 28 yards to the end zone. He added an 11 yard scoring run in the second quarter and a 10-yard TD run with 1:20 left in the first to make the score 33-0.
"He's really coming on," Batzel said. "He's run much harder the last two to three weeks. He's improving, and that puts a big smile on my face."
Over, who also threw a 15-yard TD pass to Zach Pressel to make the score 14-0, showed he could run too. On third-and-eight from the Rocket 45, he scrambled to the Southern sideline and raced the rest of the way for the score.
"He went to a gear that I hadn't seen before," Batzel said. "He was moving. I think he prefers to put it in the air, but he has been able to run when needed."
On Southern's next play, Pressel caused freshman QB Tyler Carowick to fumble at the NBC 10. Kagarise scored on the next play. The Panthers' Toby Quarry recovered a fumble earlier, and it led to a score.
"Our defense has made big plays all year," Batzel said. "We played pretty well in the first half. We got the big plays when we needed them. I just thought it was a solid, all-around effort."
The Rockets (0-5) scored their only TD - and third of the season - against the NBC reserves with 3:37 of a fast-moving second half. By then, the outcome was decided, and the Panthers could look forward to the second half of the season.
"We're playing pretty well right now," Batzel said. "Is it the best we've played? I'm not sure about that."
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Northern Bedford14 19 7 0 - 40
Southern Huntingdon0 0 0 7 - 7
NB-Kagarise 28 run (Bequeath kick), 7:17.
NB-Pressel 15 pass from Over (Bequeath kick), :57.
NB-Kagarise 11 run (kick failed), 4:28.
NB-Over 45 run (kick failed), 1:50.
NB-Kagarise 10 run (Bequeath kick), 1:20.
NB-Gartland 35 pass from Over (Bequeath kick), 8:21.
SH-Waite 4 run (Bockelmann kick), 3:37.
RUSHING: Northern Bedford-Kagarise 17-81, Over 2-52, Ebersole 5-42, Baker 4-4, Brallier 2-0. Southern Huntingdon-Waite 11-59, Glunt 5-35, Carbaugh 7-24, Simerson 4-12, Carowick 6-(-13).
PASSING: Northern Bedford-Over 11-14-0-148, Batzel 1-1-0-5, Miller 0-1-0-0. Southern Huntingdon-Carowick 5-10-0-24.
RECEIVING: Northern Bedford-Diehl 6-58, Pressel 3-39, Gartland 1-35, Ebersole 2-21. Southern Huntingdon-Carbaugh 1-9, Jones 1-6, Parks 1-5, Waite 2-4.
INTERCEPTIONS: Northern Bedford-none. Southern Huntingdon-none.