FREDERICKTOWN -- Southmoreland coach Dave Keefer doesn't want to look too far ahead after watching the Scotties improve to 4-0 with a 62-16 dismantling of Beth-Center on Friday night.
"Next up, Brownsville. Let's go," Keefer said in relaying what he told his players after the Interstate Conference game at Beth-Center Stadium. "Enjoy tonight and we'll get back to work tomorrow."
The facts are the last time Southmoreland opened a season with four straight wins was 1991, and the Scotties haven't been to the postseason in 40 years.
"It's been awhile since we've had some success," Keefer acknowledged.
The second streak could come to an end this year if Southmoreland continues to get superb performances from its big offensive trio of quarterback Zach Cernuto, wide receiver Riley Comforti and running back Colt Harper.
Cernuto completed nine of 17 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns against B-C. Comforti had five receptions for 59 yards and one run for 19 yards. Harper bulled his way to 113 yards and four TDs on 16 carries.
"This is another game we circled," Keefer said. "They put 52 on us last year and I emphasized that all week and told them it's not going to happen this year, let's turn the tide and turn the tables."
It seems Keefer has turned the Scotties' entire football program completely around in just his second year, and he can sense his 2019 team has the makings of something special.
"They're starting to gain that self-confidence," Keefer said. "I'm not sure we had that at the beginning of the year, but now they're playing with reckless abandon, they're trusting themselves, they're trusting their teammates and they're trusting the coaching staff.
"So it's fun to coach because the practices are lively, they're loose and the kids are flying around and everybody is encouraging each other. There's not too much negativity at all."
Southmoreland didn't have a positive start against the Bulldogs as Nick Martin intercepted a deflected Cernuto pass on the third play of the game. The Scotties' Jason Bloom recovered a B-C fumble four plays later, however, and the visitors marched 54 yards in eight plays with Harper's one-yard touchdown run capping the drive.
Andrew Rodriguez, who was eight for eight on extra-point kicks, made it 7-0 and Southmoreland was ahead to stay.
A 27-yard pass by Cernuto to Comforti set up a three-yard TD run by Harper for a 14-0 lead after one quarter.
The Bulldogs fought back with a 71-yard drive that featured a 48-yard pass by Blayze Vilcoss to Kamden Studnicki off a reverse, and a 24-yard completion by quarterback Andrew Bower to Devin Dingle. Bower's four-yard touchdown pass to Studnicki and his two-point conversion pass to Dingle made it 14-8 and gave B-C life.
Southmoreland quickly took the momentum back when it recovered an onside kick attempt by Beth-Center and Cernuto hit Brandon Peterson with a 41-yard touchdown pass on the next snap.
The Scotties then came up with two big defensive plays to take complete control. Cernuto returned an interception 18 yards for a TD and Peterson picked up a fumble and ran it back 20 yards for a score.
Southmoreland completed a 35-point second quarter with a 21-yard touchdown pass by Cernuto to Isaac Trout and a seven-yard TD run by Harper to take a commanding 49-8 halftime lead.
With seven two-way starters injured, the Bulldogs were no match for the Scotties.
"That's equivalent to 14 players being out," B-C coach Joe Kuhns said. "Southmoreland is well-coached and Tim does a great job of calling the offense. They make you defend the whole field and we're trying to do that with a bunch of kids that are playing new positions and are pretty young. We're making a ton of mistakes, but they're giving us all they got effort-wise."
Kuhns pointed to the Scotties' passing attack as the key to their success.
"Those two big guys they've got on the outside (6-foot-3 Comforti and 6-4 Peterson), you've got to account for them," Kuhns said. "I think that's what makes them dangerous."
Southmoreland tacked on touchdown runs of three yards by Harper and 17 yards by Anthony Govern in the second half sandwiched around a 30-yard scoring pass by Bowers to Dingle and a two-point conversion run by Bowers.
Bowers completed eight of 23 passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions. Studnicki had three receptions for 68 yards and Dingle caught two passes for 54 yards and ran for 15 yards.
Beth-Center had negative yardage rushing for the game until Mikiah Bayus broke a 30-yard run in the fourth quarter.
"Our defense played well," Keefer said. "That's the best game they've played in the two years that I've been here."
The Scotties are back on the road next week at Brownsville while the Bulldogs face an undefeated team for the second week in a row when they travel to McGuffey.
Southmoreland 14-35-7-6 -- 62
Beth-Center 0-8-0-8 -- 16
S: Colt Harper 1 run (Andrew Rodriguez kick), 5:56
S: Colt Harper 9 run (Andrew Rodriguez kick), 3:30
BC: Kamden Studnicki 4 pass from Andrew Bower (Devin Dingle pass from Andrew Bowers), 11:49
S: Brandon Peterson 41 pass from Zach Cernuto (Andrew Rodriguez kick), 11:41
S: Zach Cernuto 18 interception return (Andrew Rodriguez kick), 10:51
S: Brandon Peterson 20 fumble return (Andrew Rodriguez kick), 7:57
S: Isaac Trout 21 pass from Zach Cernuto (Andrew Rodriguez kick), 5:50
S: Colt Harper 7 run (Andrew Rodriguez kick), 3:37
S: Colt Harper 3 run (Andrew Rodriguez kick), 1:29
BC: Devin Dingle 30 pass from Andrew Bower (Andrew Bower run), 8:25
S: Anthony Govern 17 run (run failed), 2:13
Records: Southmoreland (3-0, 4-0), Beth-Center (0-4, 0-3)