Saturday, June 15, 2024

Beachwood turns to ground game in 32-14 win over Independence

Nate Hamilton rushed for 155 yards and three scores and Max Balazs added 124 yards and three scores on the ground to lead Beachwood to a 32-14 Chagrin Valley Conference Metro Division win at Independence on Thursday.

After losing their first three, the Bison have won three to hit the .500 mark.

“That was a good one to get,” said Beachwood head coach Mike Gibbons. “We played well in the second half and ran the ball well. They gave us a different look than we saw on film but we made some good adjustments.”

Balazs got the Bison off to a fast start with a 41-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. He scored on a three-yarder in the second.

“Max ran the ball well,” Gibbons said. “The one running play we run a lot they did a good job of containing. We had another play we used, it’s a different type of read, he was getting some good pulls on it and he had the long running play off of that. It was good to see they were able to execute.”

Thomas Hockenberry threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Austin Buc to cut Beachwood’s lead to 12-7 at halftime.

The Bison nearly added another second quarter score but a turnover thwarted that opportunity.

It wouldn’t matter as Balazs broke a 35-yard scoring run in the third quarter and Hamilton added scoring runs of 1 and 26 yards in the fourth to seal the win.

Aside from another Hockenberry touchdown pass, the Bison defense stuffed the Blue Devils in the second half.

“The defense played really well,” Gibbons said. “They tackled well and ran to the ball and the defensive line made some tackles. We had a lot of plays in the backfield. Our linebackers are getting better. Cameron Mack and Josh Bialosky are stepping it up and were all over the place.”

Balazs completed 11-of-16 passes for 138 yards. Jordan Williams was his favorite target. Williams caught five passes for 77 yards.

“He’s picking up where he left off last week,” Gibbons said. “He did a good job and Nate Hamilton was awesome. He ran the ball hard there at the end. He refused to go down. He broke a TD run for about 30 yards to put it away there.”

Six games into the season and the Bison are sitting at 3-3. Gibbons hopes the three-game win streak has left his players feeling confident after the sluggish start.

The Bison have two Metro Division games coming up followed by a crossover game with Kirtland and they close out the season with a non-league game against West Geauga.

“I think they’re excited and are getting their confidence under them,” he said. “The first three games were tough, especially the first two the way we lost, but I give the kids credit, they didn’t stop doing what they need to do in practice to prepare for the games. They’re building some momentum heading down the stretch. They understand what is at stake here. Our goal is to win the conference championship again and qualify for the playoffs.”

Steve Hare
Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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