SIDNEY — Lehman Catholic scored the first touchdown of its first-ever Three Rivers Conference game on Saturday at Sidney Memorial Stadium and played Milton-Union close for the first quarter.
But the Bulldogs bulled their way through the Cavaliers the rest of the night.
Milton-Union scored eight unanswered touchdowns and handed Lehman a 55-7 defeat in both teams’ inaugural TRC contest.
The Cavaliers dropped to 0-4 overall with the loss. They opened the season with a two-touchdown loss to former Northwest Central Conference rival Lima Perry, were routed 58-0 in Week 2 by New Bremen and lost 27-22 to former NWCC rival Waynesfield-Goshen last week.
It isn’t the start the team hoped for, but coach Dick Roll said he’s seeing improvement.
“We’re playing a lot of young guys,” Roll said. “We’re looking for an identity. We played a good first quarter (tonight) and saw some good things and did some things we wanted to do. But they counteracted it. We’ve got to just keep plugging away.”
Milton-Union struggled to get its running-oriented offense going in its first three series.
The Bulldogs (3-1) fumbled on the game’s first possession, and Lehman recovered at midfield. The squads traded punts, but Lehman got going on its second drive.
After driving to Milton’s 31-yard line, Michael McFarland hauled in a touchdown pass from Donovan O’Leary on a fourth down to give the squad a 7-0 lead with 5:50 left.
Both squads punted on the next two drives, and Milton-Union started its fourth drive at midfield in the final seconds of the first quarter.
The Bulldogs then found the way to get going offensively: get receiver Blake Brumbaugh the ball.
Brumbaugh, a junior three-sport standout, caught a couple of passes to set up Blake Neumaier for a 1-yard TD run early in the second to tie it 7-7.
Brumbaugh then intercepted a pass to end Lehman’s next drive and returned it to about the 20-yard line. Nate Morter scored on a 1-yard TD run with 9:38 left to give Milton a 14-7 lead.
Brumbaugh intercepted a pass at midfield, then caught a 25-yard pass from Morter to move the Bulldogs to Lehman’s 9. He scored on a 4-yard TD run shortly after to boost the lead to 21-7.
Lehman punted on its next drive, and Brumbaugh caught a 49-yard TD pass on the first play of the ensuing possession to give Milton-Union a 28-7 lead with 3:42 left in the second.
The Cavaliers followed with another three-and-out, and Connor Yates caught a 25-yard TD pass with 1:17 left to increase the lead to 34-7 after a missed extra point.
Yates caught a 42-yard TD pass with 8:18 left in the third quarter to push the lead to 41-7 and start a running clock. Jordan Foose scored on a 59-yard run with 10:17 left in the fourth, and both squads put in their second string players shortly after. The Bulldogs’ Wyatt Kimmel threw a 57-yard TD pass to Ray Copeland with 4:29 left to finish the game’s scoring.
“They had some great passes and made some great plays,” Roll said. “We had some kids in good coverage, and they made some great plays on us. We did what we thought we had to do to have a chance. First quarter we did, and we didn’t the rest of the game. They adjusted to us.”
The Bulldogs finished with 456 yards of offense while Lehman finished with 128.
O’Leary completed 6-of-11 passes for 90 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. The squad gained 43 rushing yards on 37 carries. John Edwards led the team with six tackles. Ethan Stiver, Dylan Karns and Hayden Sever each recovered one fumble.
Brumbaugh caught four passes for 121 yards, ran for 39 yards on seven carries and intercepted two passes. Morter completed 8-of-16 passes for 206 yards.
Lehman is scheduled to travel to Miami East (1-3, 0-1) for a TRC game on Friday.
“It’s one game at a time. That’s how we’re going to look at it,” Roll said. “We’re just going to get better.”
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.