URBANA — As Eric Kolar fielded questions about his outstanding performance and the Urbana football team being 2-0 for the first time since 2013, a teammate jogged past, tapped him on the front of the jersey and declared, “Best player in Frederick County!”
But Kolar, a junior running back for the Hawks, was interested in pointing the finger in a different direction.
“My gosh, my [offensive] line is a bunch of animals,” he said of left tackle Cameron Lauer, left guard Dominic Gulli, center Eric Drabick, right guard Justin Karira and right tackle Kyle Wang.
The combination of Kolar’s vision and speed and the power and experience of the line was simply too much for Middletown to handle on Friday night, as the Hawks rode their running game to a 20-13 win.
Kolar rushed for 206 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and junior quarterback Kyle Howes had a 1-yard touchdown run behind a line comprised of senior returning contributors.
“They are big. They are mean, and they are going to drive people to the dirt, too,” said Kolar, who rushed for 200 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s 34-27 season-opening road win over Clarksburg. “I mean, these boys do everything for me. I am proud of them.”
Photos: Middletown at Urbana Football
The dominance of Kolar and the line through two games is setting up an interesting conundrum for coach Brad Wilson that figures to play out over the course of the season.
While the running game is the strength of Hawks’ offense, Wilson is a coach that would prefer to spread everyone out and pass.
“I told you. We run the ball if we have to,” Wilson said after his team piled up 257 yards and three touchdowns on the ground next to 170 yards on 22 attempts through the air. “Hey, if the running game is there, we are going to go for it.”
On Urbana’s first offensive play, Kolar took the handoff on a misdirection play and burst over the left side for a long run down the sideline that was called back due to an illegal shift.
Two plays later, he caught a swing pass from Howes out in the left flat and turned upfield for a 61-yard run that set up Urbana’s first touchdown of the game, the 1-yard run by Howes.
After the Hawks’ next drive was backed up by a penalty, Kolar took the handoff and burst through the middle for a 90-yard touchdown run. He later added a 50-yard scoring run on Urbana’s first possession of the second half.
“Vision,” Wilson said when asked why Kolar is such an effective back. “He’s pretty special. But, hey, you know, we have a pretty good offensive line up front. He’d be the first to admit.”
Middletown (1-1) managed to hang around for the duration of the game despite being badly outplayed in the trenches.
A 56-yard punt return by Jason Houck just past the midpoint of the second quarter set up a 7-yard touchdown run by Clarke Cheairs on the very next play. That brought the Knights to within 14-6 at halftime.
Then, early in the fourth quarter, Cheairs capped a well-executed 66-yard touchdown drive with another 7-yard scoring run that pulled Middletown to within a touchdown and extra point with 10 minutes, 7 seconds to play.
With 1:50 to go, the Knights were gifted an interception after Howes ran for what should have been the game-clinching first down.
But Middletown’s offensive line couldn’t protect senior quarterback Reese Poffenbarger.
After taking over on the Urbana 40 with a chance to tie the game, he was sacked twice, and that effectively ended the Knights’ chances. His final deep ball on 4th-and-15 from his own 45 was batted down near the goal line.
“We just have to learn from every part of this game,” Middletown coach Collin Delauter said. “Everything from here on out is going to be a dogfight, no matter what. We have to come ready to play every week.”