BRANFORD — Branford coach Tim Clark thought the Buccaneers could jump on top of Bell quickly Friday night.
Taking advantage of a quick-strike offensive attack, the Buccaneers did just that and then weathered the exit of starting quarterback Seth Heiderman in a 42-0 blasting of the rival Bulldogs.
“We thought we had some match-ups on the perimeter, and could hit them with speed a little bit,” Clark said. “And I thought we could jump out quick.”
On the first drive the 2-1 Bucs — who had four scoring drives of no more than four plays — had two big plays as Heiderman found Colton Leibold for a 23-yard pass on a post play to the Bulldog 39-yard line, then Bodhi White ran it in from there for the first TD to make it 7-0.
“That’s his first extended time at tailback,” Clark said of White, a sophomore who has mostly been used on defense. “We have confidence in him; he’s a tough kid who runs it hard.”
After Bell (0-3) was forced to punt, the Bucs needed just three plays to cover 73 yards. After Kyson Johnson ran around left end for 20 yards, he found Junior Cress for a 25-yard pass play. Next, receiver Colton Leibold caught the first of his three touchdown receptions to put the Bucs up 14-0 with 4:01 left in the first quarter.
“He’s our most electric player in the open field, for sure,” Clark said of Leibold, who he also said is “really good in space, really good at getting open, creating space (between him and the defender) in his routes, and he has excellent hands.”
On Branford’s next drive — following a stop on fake punt attempt by Bell — Heiderman got tackled hard inside the Bell 10-yard-line at the end of a second-and-7 run, losing his helmet in the process.
“He got a big hit on the sideline,” Clark said, adding Heiderman’s exit and lack of a return was mainly as precaution.
Johnson, who threw for four touchdowns, replaced Heiderman at quarterback and the Bucs scored on the drive to go up 21-0 before Branford capitalized on a Bell fumble to continue piling on.
Leibold picked up 15 yards on a third-down conversion before hauling in a 40-yard scoring toss from Johnson to make it 28-0 midway through the second quarter.
Pinned at their own 2 following an interception on Bell’s next drive, the Bucs hit another big play as Leibold got behind the defense two plays later for a 90-yard scoring strike.
“The defense played well, can’t argue with a shutout,” Clark said. “But I’m not completely satisfied on how we played on the edge; the run game We have to come up with some answers on how to contain the perimeter.
“But we played pretty physical and generated some turnovers.”
On the Bucs’ final scoring drive, which came in the third quarter, Clay Williams and White both churned out big runs before Johnson hit Williams for a score from 31 yards out.
“I believe he’s going to be a special player,” Clark said of Johnson, a sophomore. “That’s the first time he had to step into a varsity football game, and hold the standard, and he did.
“He stood in there and delivered; he ran the ball well, and managed the offense; we couldn’t ask for more, He has the mind set where he doesn’t get rattled and we saw it in this game. I thought he had it, but it’s good to see it in a game.”