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The Journal Gazette

Friday, August 25, 2017 11:20 pm

Homestead uses fast start to overwhelm Concordia

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

A slow start in Week 1 seemed a distant memory for Homestead as it defeated Concordia 49-25 on Friday.

"I think it comes from a really good week of practice," Spartans coach Chad Zolman said. "I think the offense had their best week of practice so far and you practice well, your preparation breeds confidence and confidence breeds success.

"(Defensively) we worked on some new things this week. We felt like we were suspect last week. The kids took to it and adjusted and we're grateful that they got better. We just have to continue to do that every week."

The Spartans jumped to a 14-0 lead with 5:48 left in the first quarter despite only one offensive play.

Quarterback Jiya Wright connected with Grant Raber for a 68-yard touchdown on the first play of the Spartans' first drive and Camden Rogers doubled the lead with a pick-six, returning the interception 53 yards.

"I saw it as soon as (the Concordia defense) lined up," Wright said of the first pass, "and I was hoping they'd call that play and they did and Grant did the rest. It's great to chase him down the field and celebrate with him."

Wright finished with 343 passing yards with four touchdowns, completing 20 of 28 passes.

For a quarterback typically known for his run game, the Concordia defense limited the big numbers to the air.

Wright's biggest targets were Raber (112 yards on four receptions) and Trevin Taylor (107 receiving yards for three touchdowns on five catches).

"We're waiting for him to have a breakout night and this was it," Zollman said of Taylor. "We've seen this in practice so we're not surprised."

The Homestead defense made its mark with Jack Klein getting a pick-six of his own with 1:43 left in the game as he tipped a pass at the Concordia 4-yard line and ran it in.

"I just looked at where the quarterback was going, all night he was kind of looking where he was going to throw the ball," Klein said, "and I read the play, tipped it up and kind of hoped. It was miraculous.

"We were dying to come out hot with senior night, home opener. Give me a better scenario for that. All week we were stressing, 'Come out hot, come out hot,' because our first half against Northrop was very lackadaisical. I thought we came out a lot better (Friday)."

The Spartans had a 21-13 lead at halftime and came out with 21 straight points in the third quarter.

Shortly before the end of the third, Concordia quarterback Jake Byrd connected on a 68-yard pass to Tysen Chambers to set up Marcus Morrow's 1-yard scoring run to open the fourth.

Byrd also had a 19-yard pass to Kamari Anderson-Drew later in the quarter.

Byrd finished with 12 of 28 completions for 213 yards and three interceptions, Marcus Morrow ran 16 times for 138 yards and a score and Keaton Koehlinger caught four passes for 50 yards and a score and ran once for a 10-yard touchdown.