Unbeaten Western Reserve overcame a penalty-laden first quarter Friday against Plymouth in its Firelands Conference opener.
After a 7-7 tie at the end of the first quarter, Blake Buckhannon led the Roughrider offensive attack as the Roughriders pulled away the remaining three quarters and secured a 44-13 win.
The two teams combined for seven penalties on three total drives in the first quarter.
Western needed just five plays on its first drive to score. Blake Buckhannon raced 49 yards on a 3rd-and-3 to put Western up 7-0.
Plymouth responded by marching 67 yards in 12 plays.
Then, facing a 4th-and-4 from the Western 13, the Big Red converted on an option pass from Craig Miller to Kyle Reinhart.
Buckhannon picked up his second touchdown of the game on the first play of Western’s next drive with a 1-yard touchdown run and added his third of the half a series later from 66 yards out.
After Plymouth lost a fumble with 1:37 left in the second quarter, Western drove 48 on seven plays using two timeouts. Senior kicker Josh Good nailed a 34-yard field goal with eight seconds left on the first half clock.
Buckhannon added his fourth and final rushing touchdown of the game with 8:34 left in the third quarter.
Nick Zieter and Theron Martz added rushing touchdowns for Western in the fourth quarter.
Plymouth concluded the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown connection again from Miller to Reinhart.
Buckhannon totaled 200 yards on 12 carries and four touchdowns for Western.
Willie Roth added 103 yards on 10 carries. Western quarterback Kyle Pressley was 6-15 for 76 yards and one interception.
“They had a good game-plan. They came here to play,” Western Reserve coach Mike Stoll said. “Offensively, we need to sustain drives more. We had a lot of big plays, but I like our drives to be 10 plays or so.”
“One game at a time,’’ the coach added. “We gotta keep focused on South Central because they’re going to come in here all fired up just like Plymouth did.”
Western is now 4-0, 1-0 and plays South Central at home Friday.
Derrick Beers led Plymouth in rushing with 68 yards on 13 carries. Miller was 4-of-10 for 74 yards and two touchdowns. Reinhart caught two passes for 29 yards and two touchdown receptions.
“My guys came to play tonight. We scored against their (first-team) in the last four minutes; that was a big moment for us. We’ve been fighting to play four quarters,” Plymouth coach Mark Genders said. “They have a tremendous amount of speed. You miss a couple tackles against these guys and they’re gone.’’
Plymouth is now 0-4, 0-1 and hosts New London Friday.
Score by quarter
Plymouth 7 0 0 6 — 13
Western 7 17 7 13 — 44
WR: Buckhannon, 49 yard run (Good kick)
PLY: Miller to Reinhart, 13-yard reception (Roberts kick)
WR: Buckhannon, 1yard run (Good kick)
WR: Buckhannon, 66 yard run (Good kick)
WR: Good 34-yard field goal
WR: Buckhannon, 52-yard run (kick good)
WR: Zeiter, 11-yard run (kick failed)
WR – Martz, 12-yard run (Good kick)
PLY: Miller to Reinhart 10 yard reception (kick failed)