Lyle Grant isn’t very tall but the Alden senior proved once again Friday night he's quite a handful to contain as the fast, shifty, powerful runner played a big role in the Bulldogs remaining unbeaten midway through the season.
Grant rushed for 179 yards and two touchdowns as Alden beat division rival Depew, 28-6, in Class B East action.
If it seemed like Grant carried the ball over and over again, it’s because he pretty much did. The 5-foot-5 running back carried the ball 33 times, including 21 times during the second half as Alden played keep away with the ball to prevent the Wildcats from attempting a late rally.
“Consistently, that kid whether it’s in practice Thursday walk through or Friday night on third and short he runs hard,” Bulldogs coach Rob Currin said. “He’s a workhorse. He doesn’t look like he’s going to be able to do some of the things he does but he’s got a big heart and an endless motor.”
Alden snapped a two-game losing streak to the Wildcats and has now beaten Depew eight times in the teams’ last 10 meetings.
Player of the game: Grant, who had eight rushes of at least 10 yards or more. He scored his 10th TD of the season late in the third quarter to give the guests a 21-6 lead. He tacked on his 11th with 1:51 left to wrap up the ‘W.’
Unleashing the dogs: Lost in Grant’s performance was the effort by the Bulldogs’ defense. They held Depew to 159 yards, including 37 in the second half as the plugged running holes and pressured quarterback Ryan Guay whenever they needed to get a big stop. Alden forced two four and outs and a three and out on the Wildcats’ final three possessions. Zach Loper finished with six tackles, Andrew Marx five and Stockweather and Grant each with four.
Key defensive play: J.J. Foster recovered a fumble at the Alden 32 on a third-down play by Depew during its opening drive of the third quarter. It had been a promising march by the Wildcats up to that point. It’s the final time they got into Alden territory.
Big-play Bulldogs: Alden wasted little time taking the lead, needing just three plays to travel 75 yards on its first possession. The biggie: a 45-yard run by Christian Snell. Grant had a 20-yard run and then sophomore Bryan Cybulski connected with Jordan Stockweather on a 21-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone, a beautiful throw and even better in-stride catch.
Quotable: “Depew week is always a big week in our mind,” Grant said. “We’ve always got to come out and perform and it was all backed up by an outstanding performance by our offensive line.”
Unsung heroes: Alden's offensive line of Andrew Chowaniec, Leyton Miner, Dylan Riddoch, Ryan Hurley, Paul Feitshans and tight end Brandon Weierheiser.
Play of the game: Snell’s 45-yard run.
Wildcats show fight: After two three-and-out series to open the game, Depew received the break it needed to pull back into the game. Matt Poblocki pulled down a tipped pass by Jakob Grant and returned it to Alden’s 6. Two plays later, Guay connected on 5-yard TD pass with Steve Nichy to pull Wildcats within 1.
Numbers: Alden had the ball for 16 minutes, 23 seconds of the second half to successfully protect a 14-6 halftime lead. For the game, the Bulldogs possessed the ball for 29:31. Alden finished with 318 yards, including 240 rushing. Stockweather caught three passes, two for touchdowns covering 21 and 27 yards on nice throws by Cybulski.
Records: Depew is now 2-2 overall, 2-1 in Class B East. Alden improves to 4-0, 3-0 in the division. Alden is ranked fourth in News Small School Poll, Depew 10th.
Senior night: It’s Week Four but it’s already Senior Night at Depew as is custom with the Wildcats’ penultimate home game. Twenty-three players and one senior cheerleader were honored with their parents prior to kickoff. Depew's final home game is in Week Seven against rival Lancaster.
Attendance: An estimated 2,000 filled into the Constantino Sports Complex.
Game time: 2 hours, 7 minutes.
Next: Alden hosts Medina in another Class B East clash. Depew hits the road to take on East Aurora.
Chow report: Kudos to the grill man at Constantino Sports Complex. Not only did he have dogs prepared 30 minutes before kickoff, it’s by far the best tasting, grilled dog I’ve had all season. Mix in a quality corner slice of pizza and coffee and happiness reigned supreme. Grade: A+