With sophomore running back Ivory Kelly-Martin watching from the sideline on crutches, Nazareth compensated with a standout debut by senior transfer Nolan Dean.
A two-way player, Dean scored Nazareth’s first points of the season on a safety. The senior burst through the line from his outside linebacker position and tackled running back Telly Arrington in the end zone to cap Bloomington’s first possession.
Kevin Jackson’s interception at the Bloomington 26 then set up Dean’s first TD run.
“It was really fun. It was a really excellent game,” Dean said. “We have a great line. Anyone could run through it. They create some big holes.”
Dean said he left Neuqua Valley to be reunited with teammates from his Naperville Patriots youth football team and to take advantage of Nazareth’s smaller class sizes. Dean also played offense and defense for Neuqua Valley last season and had a career-best 251 yards and three touchdowns against Metea Valley.
Dean, who battled asthma during preseason practice, is helping Nazareth weather the loss of Kelly-Martin, who tore the MCL in his right knee two weeks ago in a collision with a teammate during practice.
Kelly-Martin said he does not plan on having surgery and hopes to return near the end of the season.
“It’s terrible for me,” Kelly-Martin said. “I was out [on the field] all summer working. I hope I can finally get on the field.”
Nazareth coach Tim Racki was worried about how his team would respond after being featured Friday night on cable-TV as the team of the week. But with 13 different players rushing for a total of 232 yards against Bloomington, the Roadrunners eased his concerns. Joseph Muscolino was the team’s second-leading rusher with five carries for 33 yards.
“You have to give that line credit. We have kids that could pound it in there. We had the same problem last year,” Racki said. “We have seven to eight kids that when they touch the ball, they can make things happen.”
Four of Nazareth’s five offensive linemen — tackles Jack Shutack and John Kilcommons and guards Mike Owens and Patrick Kilcommons — have received Division I offers. Center John Brunory is listed at 5-foot-11 and 275 pounds.