Unbeaten Panthers having fun on both sides of ball
What's more fun, being part of an offense on a football team that's averaging 45 points per game, or on a defense that has been almost impossible to run against?
Right now, Rochester Century two-way players Chad Zastrow and Bryce Duncan are happy to have it both ways.
Zastrow and Duncan were instrumental on both sides of the ball as Century crushed Austin 60-6 Friday night at Century Stadium, just missing a school record for points scored in a single game. Century scored 62 in a 2004 game, in a 62-35 win over Owatonna.
"I like being on both sides of the ball," said Duncan, a 6-foot-3 senior tight end/defensive end who caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nick Beise in the first half, and helped limit the Austin offense to just 123 total yards.
"When we're on offense that's where our Panthers pride is, and when we're on defense it's there," said Zastrow, a senior running back/linebacker who rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns, and was a stalwart on defense.
Century (3-0) had the game firmly in hand by halftime with a 30-0 lead against the winless Packers, thanks to a strong passing performance by Beise. The 6-foot senior right-hander completed 4-of-8 passes for 97 yards in the first half, and three passes went for touchdowns of 30, 23 and 20 yards.
Senior end Jake Acker made a nice catch over an Austin defender for Century's first score from 30 yards on the Panthers' first possession. Beise also connected for 23 yards to Duncan in the second quarter, and for 20 yards to Kristopher Sveum at the end of the half.
Sveum's score capped a three-play, 51-yard drive that took just 22 seconds, and came with :04 on the clock.
"We felt if we scored right before the half we could get a look at kids in the second half who really have worked hard in practice and deserved to play," said Century head coach Jon Vik.
Most of the Century starters played only sparingly in the second half. Beise attempted just one pass in the second half before yielding to sophomore Jermaine Collins.
Beise has now passed for five touchdowns and has completed 23 of 40 passes for just over 300 yards. He has been intercepted only once so far. He also rushed for 43 yards against Austin and is Century's second-leading rusher with 93 yards in three games.
"Beise is doing a nice job," Vik said. "He has good command of our offense and he is putting the ball where it needs to be."
Zastrow had his second straight 100-yard rushing game by halftime with 104 yards on eight carries. His 44-yard scoring run up the right sideline in the second quarter put the Panthers ahead 13-0. The 5-foot-11 and 185-pound back has rushed for 302 yards and four touchdowns this season.
"Zastrow isn't the fastest back in the conference but he is a very determined runner," Vik said. "When he gets through the hole he's tough to bring down."
Century's defense was impenetrable in the first half, allowing Austin just 19 yards in total offense and no first downs.
Austin didn't gain its initial first down until 1:07 remained in the third quarter.
"They were probably the best defense we've faced so far," said Austin junior quarterback Blas Estrada, who started the season at tailback. "Their blitz from the outside was what really hurt us; we couldn't run our option around the end."
The Century defense has allowed just 127 yards rushing in the first three games.
Austin scored its first touchdown of the season early in the fourth quarter when punter Anthony Condit faked the punt and weaved 61 yards for the score. His rush accounted for half of the Packers' total offense.
Austin first-year head coach Matt Schmit said Condit always has the option to punt or run.
"I wouldn't have called that (fake punt) in that situation," Schmit said, "but (Condit) saw an opening and took off with it, and he made a good play."
Schmit, Austin's first-year head coach, said the Packers are gradually improving. But they are taking small steps. The Packers offense has only five plays in its playbook.
"Five plays, that's it, and we just added the fifth play this week," he said. "We're just trying to execute somethingbefore we try adding something else."