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Veum, Comets tame Bears 36-26 [UPDATED]

Published 12:54am Saturday, September 7, 2013 Updated 1:37am Saturday, September 7, 2013

After relying on running the ball in the first game of the season against Brandon/Evansville, the Hillcrest Comet football team looked for a more balanced attack in Friday night’s home opener against the visiting Bertha-Hewitt Bears.

That game plan proved effective.

The Comets kicked off its scoring on the night with a 17 yard score from Vinnie Veum, who rumbled over the defense on a fourth and five to find pay dirt.

In what started a high scoring exchange in the first half, Bertha responded with a touchdown from quarterback Preston Riewer, who scored off an option keeper. After converting for two points, the Bears lead 8-6.

It was Veum again for the Comets on its next scoring drive, rumbling up the middle from 10 yards out.

On the first play of the next drive, Comet Evan Newman would leap for a jump ball and come down with the interception. The Comet offense looked to have extended their lead with a 33 yard touchdown pass, but the play would be negated by an illegal formation. The Comets eventually turn the ball over on a failed fourth and long.

The Comets would make up for it in the second quarter with a 68 yard pitch and catch from quarterback Jacob Isaac to Jared Christenson. After a two point play, the Comets led 20-8.

The game turned into a shootout before the halftime. Bertha would cut into the Hillcrest lead and recover on onside kick that set up another scoring drive and tied the game at 20-20.

After a long kick return by Jared Newman, the Comets would drive with time running short in the quarter. Veum scored his third touchdown of the half from 11 yards out and gave the Comets a 28-20 lead heading into the locker room.

The second half was a defensive stalemate, with each team only scoring once. Isaac connected with Newman for a 24 yard pass.

The Comets contained the Bears and held on for the victory, with the final score at 36-26.

“I though we passed fairly well and we were getting some nice receptions,” said Comet head coach Charlie Brue. “When it comes to the point where we have to run, we struggle a little bit, so we’re definitely working on that.”

The improved offensive game plan succeeded in achieving balance against the Bears. The Comets gained more yards through the air, with 192 yards passing, than it did on the ground, as the team gained 156 yards rushing. The offense ran the ball 32 times and threw 23 attempts in the air.

Veum led the team’s rushing attack with 106 yards on 18 carries tacked on to his three scores. Evan Newman contributed 45 yards on six attempts.

Isaac completed 13 of his 23 passes that went for 192 yards. The junior quarterback threw one interception, but connected for two touchdowns.

Newman led the Comets in receptions with seven catches for 102 yards and one touchdown. Jared Christenson followed behind with 68 yards receiving and a touchdown.

In a game that saw a lot of offense, the Hillcrest defense gave up 357 total yards, including 250 yards on the ground.

It did hold the Bears to just over 100 yards passing, however, and clamped down in an important second half. The defense also took two fumbles away and had 3 interceptions on the night, as the Comets won the turnover battle 5-1.

“Our defense really stepped it up,” Brue said. “I think it was just a matter of being aware, understanding what they were doing and making plays. Actually, there was some pretty good line play from Michael Battillo, who did a nice job putting some pressure on and Isaac came in and played some good defense. These guys were cramping up and coming in and out, so I was proud of them for playing hard for all four quarters.”

The Comets look to continue to mesh together this week as the young team prepares to travel to Ashby on Friday. Hillcrest kicks off against the Arrows and head coach Jeff Risbrudt, former Comet quarterback who played under Brue, at 7 p.m.

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