The first game of the season couldn’t have gone better for the Bethlehem football team.
The Eagles (1-0) scored early and often on their way to a 41-8 victory over Albany Saturday, Sept.6, at Union College – one of their two homes away from home this season while their field back in Bethlehem gets a new drainage system, lights and a resurfaced track.
Bethlehem caught a break on Albany’s first play from scrimmage when the snap from center sailed over quarterback Tysheem Morris’ head and rolled into the end zone. Tommy Russo won the mad dash for the loose ball and covered it for the Eagles’ first touchdown 17 seconds into the game.
From there, the first half became a showcase on both sides of the ball for Bethlehem. The Eagles’ defense recorded several plays for Albany losses, while their offense had little trouble moving the ball against the Falcons’ overmatched defense.
An example came on Bethlehem’s first offensive series. It took the Eagles two plays to score a touchdown – a pass from quarterback Nick Crisorio to tailback Ben Zonca to Albany’s 24-yard line, and Zonca finding a seam and racing the rest of the way for six points.
Albany didn’t do itself any favors when it muffed a punt, and Bethlehem recovered at the Falcons’ 27-yard line. This time, Zonca capped a three-play drive with a 12-yard touchdown run that gave the Eagles a 21-0 lead with six minutes left in the first quarter.
The theme continued in the second quarter. Zonca scored his third touchdown on a 7-yard run midway through the period to give Bethlehem a 28-0 lead following Andrew McCullough’s extra point.
Then starting from their own 19-yard line, the Eagles engineered one more scoring drive before halftime. Crisorio’s pass to Zach Mendelson turned into a big gain that – with the addition of an Albany facemask penalty – landed Bethlehem at Albany’s 1-yard line. Tailback Ben Tietjen pushed his way into the end zone on the next play to make the halftime score 34-0.
Jake Smith added a 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter for Bethlehem’s final points of the game. Morris broke free for a 78-yard scoring run later in the period for Albany’s only points.
Zonca rushed for 83 yards, Tietjen gained 81 yards and Smith added 54 yards to lead a balanced Bethlehem running game. Crisorio completed five of nine passes for 94 yards.
Bethlehem travels to Ballston Spa Friday, Sept. 12, for its final non-league game before entering the heart of its Liberty Division schedule Saturday, Sept. 20, against LaSalle at Union College.
Associate editor/sports editor