DEXTER — Kaleb Natali and his General Brown football teammates sure like to share the wealth on offense this season.
The Lions’ latest effort was no different as Natali, a running back, rushed for three touchdowns, and three other teammates ran for a score each as the Lions routed Bishop Ludden, 47-26, on Friday night in a meeting of Section 3 Class C division leaders at Fisher Field.
Quarterback Eli Rawleigh, fullback Nick Rogers and running back Gabe Malcolm each rushed for a touchdown for General Brown, which improved to 5-0.
“The team has come together a lot since the beginning and we’ve progressed,” Natali said. “The line and the backs, we have worked together as a whole to become what we are.”
Quite simply, the Lions like to spread the ball around on offense, which they did in relentless fashion against the Gaelic Knights.
“We like to keep them guessing,” said Natali, who scored three straight touchdowns on the night.
“We get a lot of guys touches and it kind of keeps defenses on their toes because they don’t know which guy is going to carry it and where,” General Brown coach Doug Black said.
General Brown faced a stern test in previously unbeaten Bishop Ludden, which came into the night tied for first in the Class C1 Division.
“It was great, this was a game that I think we were all coming in pretty nervous about, they’re a good team coming out of Syracuse,” Rawleigh said. “I mean we had our doubts, but we responded with a big win.”
Rawleigh totaled 151 yards on the ground on 17 carries to lead the Lions and Rogers rumbled for 117 yards on 18 touches. Malcolm ran for 91 yards and Natali rushed for 50 yards, on nine and eight carries, respectively.
“Definitely, kind of like inside out,” Black said. “Nick does a good job pounding the inside, Eli does a good job running between the tackles and then we have those two wings in Gabe and Kaleb, they do a great job of getting the ball to the outside.”
“We utilize just about every weapon that we have on the offense and our line, they blocked great today,” Rawleigh said. “I think that’s one advantage we have, is the defense never knows where the play is going, so it was great.”
After yielding a score on the Gaelic Knights’ opening drive on quarterback Nazier Kinsey’s 36-yard scamper, the Lions went on to score on their next five possessions, including on their last four drives of the first half to take control.
General Brown responded by scoring on two long drives, with Rogers bulling his way into the end zone on a four-yard run with 51.6 seconds left in the first quarter and Malcolm burst through on the right for an eight-yard score for a 14-7 lead with 9:22 left in the first half.
The Lions then cashed in on two straight turnovers by the Gaelic Knights, both coming off fumble recoveries, as Rawleigh scored on a two-yard keeper with 6:33 left, and three minutes later, Natali scored his first touchdown of the night for a 28-7 lead.
“We play a flex-bone, we really try and run a lot of triple option, we kind of emulate what West Point does, and we try and run that triple option and keep the ball in different guys’ hands,” Black said.
After Bishop Ludden pulled to within 28-14 on Kinsey’s 58-yard scoring pass to Eric Phillips with 1:58 remaining in the first half, General Brown responded with a 62-yard drive in 10 plays to open the second half — capped by an eight-yard scoring run by Natali for a 30-14 advantage.
“I guess we feel pretty good, but we still have a long way to go, we’re still a new team, so we’re still putting in the work,” Malcolm said. “We’re not nearly as good as we can be.”
The Gaelic Knights drew within 14 points on Kinsey’s 26-yard touchdown run 12 seconds into the fourth quarter.
But on the very next play from scrimmage Natali broke free on a 41-yard scoring run for his third touchdown of the night and the Lions led 41-20.
Kinsey finished with two rushing touchdowns and passed for another for Bishop Ludden (3-1).
“Very nervous going into this game, Bishop Ludden’s a very good team,” Black said. “And they have a heck of a quarterback, but our kids played tough and were able to operate our game plan and execute.”
The Lions, who lead the Class C2 Division, were coming off a 41-20 win at home over Little Falls last Saturday in a showdown for first place in the division.
“We’ve definitely got our offense rolling and our defense seems to be clicking, but we’re still a young team and we’ve still got things to work on,” Rawleigh said.
General Brown honored its longtime football coach Steve Fisher, who passed away Sept. 27 after a battle with cancer.
“We talked to the kids a lot, they were there at Sunday’s celebration of life for Coach Fisher,” Black said. “And they got to hear all the great stories about him and hear the wonderful things about the football program that he built.”
Black continued: “It was emotional, it was a draining week last week and it’s still carrying over a little into this week.
“But at least the kids understand where the foundation was built for this program and they understand what we’re all about.”
Now General Brown will look to close in on a potential division title as it hosts Canastota on Friday before playing at rival Lowville on Oct. 21.
“It feels good and we have come a long ways,” Rogers said. “We work more as a team, we’re a family and it really shows when we work harder.”
“We take it one game at a time,” Black said. “We’ve got some tough games coming up, there’s a lot of very good football teams in Class C, so we’ve just got to keep getting better each week.”