Times Bulletin photo
A Van Wert football player tries to make a catch as a Bryan defensive back defends the pass during the Van Wert/Bryan game on Friday, August 28, in Bryan.
Times Bulletin photo A Van Wert football player tries to make a catch as a Bryan defensive back defends the pass during the Van Wert/Bryan game on Friday, August 28, in Bryan.
BY JIM COX

Times Bulletin Correspondent

sports@timesbulletin.com

BRYAN - The last two Bryan/Van Wert season openers have ended in three-point squeakers won by the Golden Bears. Not this year. The Golden Bears were dominant from beginning to end in a 35-7 thrashing of the Cougars.

Bryan's workhorse tailback Levi Fisher went up the middle for 20 yards on the game's first play from scrimmage and 48 yards for the score three plays later. Naylan Gonzalez kicked the PAT and it was 7-0, Bears, with 10:38 left in the first quarter.

After Van Wert went three-and-out, Fisher had carries of 10, 11 and 22 on a four-play, 51-yard TD drive. His touchdown and Gonzalez's PAT kick made it 14-0 with 7:21 still showing on the clock.

The Cougs picked up a first down on the ensuing possession and would have had another one, but a fumble gave the ball back to Bryan on Bryan's 30, at which point Van Wert's defense began to show signs of life. The Bears went three-and-out, and Van Wert got another first down before quarterback Corey Clifton hit tight end Austin Fleming for a 40-yard completion. However, Fleming fumbled on the Bryan three-yard line, ending that drive.

Fisher carried five more times on the next possession, picking up two first downs before Bryan punted. The Cougars went three-and-out, and a short punt put the Bears in business on the Van Wert 37. After driving to the Cougar three, however, the hosts shot themselves in the foot with three penalties, and Van Wert got it back on a missed field goal. After the Cougars fumbled it again with only 2:29 left in the half, it looked like the deficit would be a manageable 14 points going into the locker room. However, Bryan quarterback Cody Keil hit Colton Poncsak with a 47-yard TD strike, and Gonzalez added the kick to make it 21-0 at the break.

Fleming assumed the signal-calling duties in the second half, and the Cougs picked up a first down before a mishandled snap, Van Wert's fourth lost fumble of the game, gave it back to Bryan. The two teams traded three-and-outs, but the Cougars' three-and-out ended in a fumbled snap on the punt, which Van Wert recovered, but that gave the ball to the Bears on the Cougar five. Fisher scored from the two a couple of plays later, and Gonzalez kicked the PAT - 28-0, Bryan, with 6:03 left in the third quarter.

Van Wert got a first down via penalty on the next possession before punting. Fisher then fumbled - Bryan's first and only one in the game - setting up a Cougar scoring drive. Connor Massillo carried the ball 10 times in a 13-play, 43-yard drive for the score. Massillo put it in the end zone on a one-yarder, and Gyer Blackmore booted the PAT - 28-7, Bryan, with 7:53 left in the game.

Fisher added insult to injury with a 55-yard TD scamper with 6:36 left in the game, and Gonzalez's fifth PAT kick provided the final margin.

Fisher had a dream night with 224 yards and four TD's on 25 carries. Keil was 4-for-8 passing for 70 yards.

Massillo netted 107 yards on 28 carries for Van Wert. Clifton hit on 5 of 10 passes for 64 yards. Fleming was 0-for-5 throwing, but picked up 47 yards rushing, including a 39-yard scamper.