The Justin-Siena football team got off to a slow start but still rolled to a 35-9 over the visiting Piedmont on Friday night at Dodd Stadium.
Justin-Siena head coach Brandon LaRocco was pleased after his program defeated the Highlanders in a season opener, or been even close to beating them, for the first time since 2013.
“Not too shabby,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of tough games against these guys and I really respect their program. That’s a good team we played tonight.”
The Braves had strong performances on both sides of the ball, with junior quarterback Hudson Beers completing 12 of 24 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns in his varsity debut.
“The first time you play varsity quarterback, there’s a lot to get used to – like the speed of the game and the other team’s blitz package,” LaRocco said. “It’s hard to replicate what Piedmont does in practice. But I was proud of the way our line picked up the blitz and gave Hudson time to throw.”
Justin-Siena wide receiver Miles Williams had a pair of 50-yard TD receptions from Beers, and also blocked a punt that he ran in for a 25-yard scoop and score.
“We work a lot on our punt blocks,” Williams said. “After I blocked it, I saw a huge scramble and the ball popped out. I just grabbed it and ran.”
“That was a heck of a play,” said LaRocco.
On the defense side of the ball, the Braves held down Piedmont’s vaunted running game and harassed Piedmont’s quarterbacks with Justin Siena’s Grant Koehler recording three sacks. “Grant’s a great kid, not the biggest defensive lineman you’ve ever seen, but man, he’s tough as nails, we love that,” LaRocco emphasized.
Justin-Siena kicked off the scoring when Piedmont quarterback was stripped of the ball, and the Braves’ Nolan Dunkle recovered and ran it in from 30 yards out. Justin expanded the lead to 14-0 at halftime when Beers hit Williams with a 50-yard strike.
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Soloman Anitoni caught a 45-yard TD pass from Beers with 8:59 left in the third quarter. On Piedmont’s next series, Williams blocked the punt on fourth down and took it to the promised land making the score 28-0.
Piedmont finally got in the board with less than a minute in the third quarter with a 2-point safety after Justin-Siena snapped the ball out of the end zone on a fourth down punt attempt.
After the Highlanders cut the lead to 28-9 on a one yard run by Brian Cain, Justin-Siena wrapped up the scoring on the second 50-yard touchdown throw from Beers to Williams.
The Braves travel to Healdsburg next Friday to play the Greyhounds in another non-league game. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
Justin-Siena JV 14, Piedmont 8
The Braves took a 6-0 first-quarter lead on a 4-yard touchdown run by Nicholas Andrews and held on to win their opener at home Friday night.
Timothy Walsh caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Zachary Zurowski in the third quarter, and the two also connected on the two-point conversion to make it 14-0.
“That was a tough team,” Justin-Siena head coach Dennis Fechter said. “It’s good to get a win to start the season. “Luckily our defense played really well.”
Zurowski led the Braves with 70 yards on 15 rushes and 66 yards passing, completing 8 of 19. Aidan Cushing was his top target with 30 yards receiving. Walsh had 18 yards receiving, Andrews 14 and Cooper Cohee 5.
Cohee ran 8 times for 44 yards, Andrews 2 for 14, Cole Chatignier 2 for 8, and Cushing 1 for 4.