MOUNT UNION - Northern Bedford has a strong-armed quarterback, plenty of tall, athletic receiving targets and a solid running game featuring a couple talented backs.
Defensively, the Black Panthers have surrendered a total of just 48 points over their first six games.
It's no surprise then, with everything taken into consideration, that all of those games have ended in Black Panthers victories.
The latest came Friday night at the Mount Union High School Athletic Field, when Northern Bedford defeated the host Trojans, 28-7, behind a 230-yard passing game from junior quarterback Blake Over, who completed 16 of 20. Tayler Pressel, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound senior tight end, caught nine Over tosses for 142 yards, while senior halfback Conner Kagarise rushed for 123 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns, including a 95-yard, fourth-quarter scoring run that put the game on ice.
Northern shrugged off an early 7-0 deficit to improve to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Inter-County Conference's Gold Division.
"We kept a nice balance,'' said Northern coach Jeff Batzel, whose team rolled up 154 of its 374 yards in total offense on the ground. "Our passing game has really been clicking, and we had some nice runs tonight.''
Mount Union took a 7-0 lead when sophomore quarterback Trevon Walker polished off the Trojans' first possession with a 22-yard touchdown run around the right side. But Northern dominated the scoreboard the rest of the way.
Kagarise's 6-yard run capped a 60-yard first-quarter Northern Bedford drive that was highlighted by Over's completions of 20 yards to 6-5 junior wideout Kyler Diehl and 30 yards to 6-4, 190-pound senior wideout Zach Pressel - Tayler Pressel's twin brother.
The Pressel twins and Diehl possess intimidating reach when Over throws the football, creating matchup problems for just about every team that Northern will face this year.
"They're all tall and they present some problems for [opposing secondaries],'' Batzel said of the Pressel twins and Diehl. "And Blake has some good instincts and has been delivering the ball well.''
Northern took a 14-7 halftime lead when junior fullback Caleb Ebersole ran 3 yards for a touchdown with 80 seconds left in the second quarter. Diehl and Tayler Pressel both made a couple decent catches on the drive, with Pressel snaring a big 16-yard pass at the Mount Union 12.
Mount Union had a couple promising scoring opportunities fizzle in the red zone in both the second and fourth quarters. The Trojans were whistled for six penalties totaling 70 yards in the game, and a holding penalty proved costly in the first scoring drive fizzling.
"We had some breakdowns,'' said Mount Union coach Corey Wertz, whose team dropped to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in the division. "We had way too many penalties. We've got to cut them down. Missed assignments and penalties were big in this game.''
Northern Bedford wrapped a 55-yard, nine-play touchdown drive on Ebersole's second 3-yard scoring run, with 9:50 left in the fourth quarter. Tayler Pressel caught four Over passes totaling 72 yards on the drive, including a 24-yard third-down throw to the Mount Union 3, as Northern took a 21-7 lead.
Kagarise's 95-yard touchdown bolt down the right side two minutes later sealed the deal for the Black Panthers.
"Our defense bent but did not break tonight,'' Batzel said. "Mount Union is a good team. We had to scratch and claw for this win.''
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Northern Bedford7 7 0 14 - 28
Mount Union7 0 0 0 - 7
MU-Walker 22 run (Lassasetta kick), 8:51.
NB-Kagarise 6 run (Bequeath kick), 1:31.
NB-Ebersole 3 run (Bequeath kick), 1:20.
NB-Ebersole 3 run (Bequeath kick), 9:50.
NB-Kagarise 95 run (Bequeath kick), 7:49.
RUSHING: Northern Bedford-Kagarise 12-123, Ebersole 8-26, Diehl 1-5, Brallier 1-4, Hoover 2-2, Batzel 1-0, Z. Pressel 1-(-3), Over 1-(-3). Mount Union-D. Smith 17-97, Walker 9-30, Brown 8-30, D. Kylor 2-13, C. Kylor 2-12, Loner 1-0.
PASSING: Northern Bedford-Over 16-20-2-230. Mount Union-Walker 5-13-0-51, House 1-1-0-12.
RECEIVING: Northern Bedford-T. Pressel 9-142, Diehl 3-52, Z. Pressel 3-33, Ebersole 1-3. Mount Union-J. Smith 3-37, Brown 2-14, Henry 1-12.
INTERCEPTIONS: Mount Union-D. Smith, Fortson.