SPENCERVILLE – Elida’s offense wasted little time.
And its defense took care of business.
Elida scored on its first four possessions, and set the tone for the rest of the game, as the Bulldogs pulled away for a convincing 31-0 victory over Spencerville in a football season-opener at Memorial Field Friday night.
Elida’s offense was very balanced, as it rushed for 175 yards and passed for 175 yards.
Elida senior quarterback Larkin Henderson, who missed a good portion of last season, due to injuries, came out Friday and completed 15 of 20 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns. The senior signal-caller also rushed for 44 yards on 10 carries and had two rushing TDs (5 yards, 13 yards).
Junior wide receiver Jackson Covault was Henderson’s favorite target Friday. Covault had nine receptions for 89 yards and a TD.
Junior Keaton Hawkey had three catches for 64 yards and had a 52-yard TD reception for the Bulldogs.
“Offensively, we talked about coming out and executing, being efficient and starting fast. … That’s what we did,” Elida head coach Kyle Harmon said.
“We had a good summer throwing the ball. We trust our wide receivers, because they’ve had a lot of experience. So, we’re putting a lot of trust in Larkin to do the right things, and to make the right reads. We’re trying to be as balanced as we can.”
Brady Kirk led the Bulldogs in the rushing department with 67 yards on five carries, including a 50-yard scamper on Elida’s opening possession of the game.
In the first quarter, Henderson was 7 of 7 passing for 96 yards and two touchdowns. Henderson ended the first half, 10 of 13 passing for 133 yards and two touchdowns.
On the first possession of the game, Elida marched 65 yards on just four plays. Henderson found Covault open for a 17-yard touchdown pass. The scoring drive was set up after the 50-yard run by Kirk.
The Bulldogs came back on their next possession and traveled 81 yards on seven plays to score again. This time, Henderson found Hawkey open on the sideline, and the junior receiver rambled 52 yards for the score. After the point- after by Grant Hardeman, Elida led 14-0 with 5:23 left in the opening stanza.
Just seconds into the second quarter, Elida cashed in again.
The Bulldogs marched 44 yards on six plays. Henderson ran it in from two yards out to cap off the short scoring drive. With the PAT, Elida led 21-0.
The Bulldogs were not finished.
With 7:14 left in the first half, Elida added another score. Henderson ran it in from 13 yards. With the PAT, the Bulldogs led 28-0.
In the first half, Elida’s offensive unit amassed 267 total yards.
Spencerville ended the first half with 159 offensive yards. Spencerville quarterback Josh Henline was 12 of 18 passing for 153 yards and two interceptions. Henline ended the game, 17 of 26 passing for 226 yards and three interceptions.
Nate Coulter was the leading receiver for the Bearcats. Coulter had seven catches for 138 yards.
With Elida having a 31-point lead to start the second half, it was a running clock.
“On defense, hats off to those guys. … They played lights out,” Harmon said. “We were put in a couple bad situations (offensively), but our defense stepped up and got some turnovers.
“The offensive line is doing a good job. They show up every week, work hard, and they just continue to get better.”
Harmon felt that it was important for his quarterback to come out and have a solid game, since he missed a good part of the 2021 season.
“That was kind of the whole thing – coming out and getting him going, getting him back on the field and getting that game speed. … He played lights out tonight,” Harmon said about Henderson.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.