Vikings taking chances to earn winsPublished 11:53pm Thursday, August 30, 2012
Taking chances is going to be a big part of the Niles football offense this year under first-year coach Antwon Jones.
The Vikings never punted and were 3-for-6 on fourth down in a 40-18 Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference win over Coldwater on Thursday.
“The bottom line is when you look at our fourth down plays we had people open,” said Jones, whose team improved to 2-0. “But we took a step in the right direction tonight. It’s not where we want to be but our kids are trying to get better. That’s all I can ask of them.”
Coldwater took advantage of Niles’ first failed fourth down play. The Cardinal got the ball after Niles had an incomplete pass on a 4th-and-5 at its own 15-yard line. Three plays later, Cooper Murphy scored on a one-yard run to give Coldwater a 6-0 lead with 8:08 left in the first quarter. The extra-point was blocked.
“We expected our defense to make a stop and they didn’t,” Jones said.
That would be the Cardinals lone lead of the evening. On two of its next five offensive plays, Niles scored touchdowns to take a 13-6 lead. Anthony Bice had a 56-yard scoring run and Ra’Quon Glenn added a 15-yard touchdown run for the Vikings.
Niles was in position to score more but was stopped on downs after failing to get a first down on a 4th-and-17 at Coldwater’s 29-yard line.
The Cardinals then marched on a 17-play, 83-yard touchdown drive that took over 10 minutes to pull within 13-12 with 49.6 left before halftime.
Coldwater scored on a one-yard run from Kenneth Garrett. The big play on the drive was a 29-yard pass from Ryan Hadley to Lucas Stempien on a 4th-and-12 that gave Coldwater a 1st-and-goal at Niles’ two yard line.
“That was the most frustrating thing for me being an offensive coordinator,” Jones said. “We wanted the ball back. It was not good.”
But with only one time-out, the Vikings didn’t sit on the ball in the final 46.5. Niles scored on four plays with Fritzel Findeisen catching a 3-yard touchdown pass from Cole Clemens :05.2 left in the second quarter. The two-point conversion run failed.
“You look at the possession before that where we dropped the two touchdown passes in a row,” Jones said. “We can move the ball when we want to. We just have to execute. I think tonight we showed we can make plays with the running game and the passing game. We just have to get better and better each week.”
Glenn’s running in the second half helped Niles take command of the game. Glenn rushed for 101 yards on six carries in the second half. Glenn’s 43-yard touchdown run gave Niles a 26-12 lead with 3:39 left in the third quarter. His 24-yard touchdown run upped the hosts lead to 40-12 with 4:41 left in the game.
“Ra’Quon is a great player,” Jones said. “Sometimes, he carries the ball a little bit too much on the outside and we have to work on that. We got to get (the ball) tucked away. But, he was making plays and that’s what we ask of him. I’ve always been known as a coach that if you’re making plays you’re going to get the ball.”
Clemens completed 11-of-20 passes for 135 yards. Bice added 78 yards on the ground for Niles on nine carries. The Vikings rushed for 261 yards.
Coldwater 6 6 0 6 – 18
Niles 13 6 14 7 – 40
C – Cooper Murphy 1 run (kick blocked)
N – Anthony Bice 56 run (Ryan Casey kick)
N – Ra’Quon Glenn 15 run (kick failed)
C – Kenneth Garrett 1 run (pass failed)
N – Fritzel Findeisen 3 pass from Cole Clemens (run failed)
N – Glenn 43 run (Casey kick)
N – Darek Bullock-Mills 1 run (Casey kick)
N – Glenn 24 run (Casey kick)
C – Austin Siegel 15 run (kick blocked)