BRIGHTON — How do you bounce back from a loss like Brighton’s football team suffered in Week 1?
Thursday, the answer was to dominate a game but outmatched Hartland squad in a 49-21 triumph in Brighton’s home opener.
The Bulldogs never trailed, taking a 14-0 lead on a pair of touchdown passes from Will Jontz to Matt Buschman, and Brighton (1-1, 1-0 KLAA Black) never looked back.
“It was heartbreaking, the loss last week,” Buschman said. “We came out with a (chip) on our shoulders. We came out and got the W.”
Jontz, not the talkative sort in interviews, let his performance do the talking for him, throwing for 250 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for 87 more yards and a touchdown.
“He did a good job tonight,” Brighton coach Brian Lemons said. “I think he showed how complete a quarterback he is tonight.”
Asked about the game, Jontz was much more interested in praising his offensive line.
“It was outstanding,” he said of the line’s effort. “Our offensive line did awesome. I’m super proud of these guys, each and every one of them.”
The Eagles (1-1, 0-1) did their best to stop Brighton’s rushing attack early, only to give up the two Jontz-to-Buschman scores, from 27 and 50 yards, respectively.
“I just ran my route,” Buschman said. “Will threw a great ball, and it was pitch and catch. Touchdown.”
“It was a great job of our coaches recognizing some formation stuff, and we took advantage,” Lemons said.
When Jontz shared time at quarterback last season, he mostly ran with the ball, and Belleville’s defense put the clamps on Brighton’s passing attack last week.
“It was a lot different than what we saw on film,” Hartland senior Josh Smithpeters said. “They were very good at hiding their plays and calling different plays to get against our defense.”
But the Eagles didn’t lie down. Hartland got on the scoreboard with 12 seconds left in the first quarter on a 4-yard run by Reece Potter, and the teams traded touchdowns in the second quarter.
In the second half, the Bulldogs took over, opening up more holes for Jontz and Chris Seguin after a halftime talk with the line.
Asked what adjustments were made, Lemons responded with a wry grin.
“Yeah. The adjustment was run-the-darn-play-right,” he said. “A great adjustment.”
That, in turn, got the Brighton offense rolling, scoring on all three drives in the third quarter to effectively put the game out of reach on a rushing touchdown by Jontz and scoring passes to Shayne Miciek (20 yards) and Rudy Ramirez (73 yards).
“We have so many options, that people have to stop that they get eyes in the backfield,” Lemons said. “That makes the pass open up, and vice versa.”
The Eagles moved the ball well enough, but saw their first three drives of the second half end with a punt, an interception and turning the ball over on downs, which effectively ended their hopes.
“We moved the ball up and down the field,” Hartland coach Brian Savage said of his offense, which totaled 363 yards to Brighton’s 455. “We just couldn’t finish it at the end. We moved between the 20s, but 20 and in seemed to be the problem.”
Chris Seguin, who rushed for 72 yards and two touchdowns for Brighton, says beating a rival like the Eagles was special.
“Growing up, playing people like Hartland and Howell, it’s always a little sweeter to get the win against them,” he said.
Hartland and Brighton will likely see each other next week, in passing, as they travel to Canton and Salem, respectively.
“We have the same record as them,” Smithpeters sad. “We just have to stay positive and work harder.”