Quarterback Brandon Chadbourn missed the first couple of games with a broken thumb on his throwing hand and the Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic Marauders started the season with losses to Bedford and Richland.
However, the Marauders have been unbeatable since Chadbourn's return to the lineup.
The BG Express continued on the fast track Friday night with its seventh straight win, a 35-21 Laurel Highlands Conference non-section victory over arch-rival Bishop McCort at Mansion Park.
BG rolled up 398 yards of offense and Chadbourn, a 6-foot-1, 186-pound junior, was the catalyst, rushing for 168 yards and passing for 120.
Chadbourn scored on runs of 12 and 49 yards in the second quarter, helping BG to a 21-14 halftime lead, then tossed a 15-yard scoring pass to tight end Matt Gormley to seal the win after McCort had cut the deficit to 27-21 early in the fourth quarter.
How much of a difference has Chadbourn made?
"With him at quarterback, we're averaging about 35 points a game," BG coach Justin Wheeler said. "He's a big-play kind of kid. Anytime he touches the ball he can take it the distance."
Chadbourn has plenty of help, too. BG has a stable of running backs who are successful because of the offensive line - tackles Andrew Berger and Robby Luciano, guards Owen Wolf and Dakota Leamer, center John Taddei and tight ends Gormley and Little.
"We want a balance of being able to run the ball inside and outside with Nick Little and D.J. Kitt powering inside and we've got our speed guys with Sam McCloskey and Brandon [Chadbourn]," Wheeler said.
"We try to be a two-dimensional team with the running and Brandon throwing the ball," Wheeler said. "He's really a dual-threat quarterback and is maturing into a heckuva athlete."
"We like to spread it around so we're tougher to defend," said Chadbourn, who moved into the quarterback slot in the fourth game. "We like to run and throw so we change it up a little bit.
"We're feeling pretty good and, if we keep practicing hard and don't take anyone lightly, we'll be all right," Chadbourn added.
After Blake Wade's 9-yard TD pass to Luke DiFrancesco pulled McCort to within 6 points with 9:21 remaining, the Crushers tried an onside kick that BG managed to cover at its 45.
"We really felt like we had a shot to get it," McCort coach Kevin Sheridan said. "I think a couple of our guys got a hand on it, but they got it back and that swung the momentum."
The Marauders were able to clinch the win by marching 55 yards on 11 plays and taking almost six minutes off the clock. Chadbourn rushed for 31 yards and completed a pair of passes to Gormley, who caught the 15-yard TD while falling in the end zone.
"For most of the game, they controlled the line of scrimmage," Sheridan said. "We made plays sporadically to keep us in the game, but they were strong on the ground and we couldn't match that."
Taddei made an interception from his defensive tackle spot that led to a BG score in the third quarter.
"We watched a lot of film on them and knew they threw a lot of screens," Taddei said. "I just read it and the ball came my way.
"We came in with a good gameplan," Taddei said. "The defense played pretty hard this week. We had a couple bad plays, but we fought through it."
Wheeler was impressed with McCort's effort.
"They're a good football team," Wheeler said. "Their record (2-7) is no indication of how good they are.
"It was a battle. We made some mistakes early with costly turnovers, but our kids battled, got the win and it feels pretty good."
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bishop McCort0 14 0 7 - 21
Bishop Guilfoyle6 15 6 8 - 35
BG-Little 5 run (kick failed), 0:23.
BM-Rugg 1 run (Junker kick), 9:45.
BG-B. Chadbourn 12 run (McCloskey pass from B. Chadbourn), 6:54.
BM-DiFrancesco 48 pass from Wade (Junker kick), 4:41.
BG-B. Chadbourn 49 run (Verba kick), 3:15.
BG-Little 3 run (kick failed), 8:37.
BM-DiFrancesco 11 pass from Wade (Junker kick), 9:21.
BG-Gormley 15 pass from B. Chadbourn (N. Miller pass from B. Chadbourn), 3:13.
RUSHING: Bishop McCort-Rugg 21-82, DiFrancesco 2-3, Burgo 2-(-2), Wade 2-(-7), Cook 2-(-22). Bishop Guilfoyle-B. Chadbourn 20-168, McCloskey 10-64, Little 7-37, Kitt 5-12, TEAM 3-(-3).
PASSING: Bishop McCort-Wade 10-20-1-105, Cook 3-3-0-27. Bishop Guilfoyle-B. Chadbourn 9-18-0-120.
RECEIVING: Bishop McCort-DiFrancesco 6-93, Rugg 2-14, Burgo 2-10, Neiderhiser 1-13, B. Wade 1-4, Trexler 1-(-2). Bishop Guilfoyle-Gormley 5-84, Yasulitis 1-12, E. Chadbourn 1-10, N. Miller 1-7, McCloskey 1-7.
INTERCEPTIONS: Bishop Guilfoyle-Taddei.