Eddies rally to get first Wolverine victoryPublished 12:41am Friday, August 31, 2012
Edwardsburg senior Michael Kempton might be diminutive in stature, but he put an entire team on his shoulders Thursday night at Leo Hoffman Field.
The elusive 5-foot-6 Kempton scored three touchdowns and rushed for a game-high 207 yards on 16 carries to lead Edwardsburg to a 37-20 Wolverine Conference football victory over Vicksburg.
On a weekend when Edwardsburg is formally celebrating 100 years as a village, Thursday’s victory was the 100th career win for veteran head coach, Kevin Bartz
“(Kempton) is kind of like a circus act out here,” Bartz said. “He’s probably the most exciting, scary player we have. He puts his body in precarious positions every time he carries the ball and is always looking for the extra yards. There’s not too many times he’s going to go down on one hit. He’s going to spin and he’s going to twist.”
Kempton, who electrified the partisan crowd with a 96-yard return to paydirt on the opening kick of the second half and was one of three Eddies to reach the end zone during a 23-point fourth quarter, was quick to deflect credit to his offensive line.
“They just drive off the ball consistently and help me get the extra yards,” Kempton said about an offensive line that includes seniors Forrest Lewis and Joe Carter, along with juniors Jacob Widup, Seth Williams and Travis Myrick. “I just ask them for three yards every time. They give it to me and I just squeeze on through.”
Senior David Kiefer chipped in with a touchdown and rushed for 105 yards on 12 carries, complementing an Edwardsburg attack that churned out 439 overland yards.
Vicksburg (0-2) drew first blood Thursday on a 31-yard pass from Caleb Breitenbach to Grant Johnson with just less than a minute remaining in the first quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, the Bulldogs punted to pin Edwardsburg deep in its own territory, but the Eddies responded with a nine-play drive that spanned 98 yards. Kempton capped the march with a 42-yard sprint to the end zone and a two-point conversion run by junior Jack Bywaters staked the hosts to a short-lived lead.
The Bulldogs regained the advantage 1 minute, 23 seconds later on a 10-yard scoring strike from Breitenbach to Colin McCaw and led, 13-8 at the intermission.
Kempton’s kick return to open the second half swung momentum in Edwardsburg’s favor, however, and the Eddies dominated the contest throughout the final two quarters.
“From about the middle of the second quarter on, they just started moving (Vicksburg) and dominating them,” Bartz said of his offensive line. “We had that long drive where we wore them down pretty good. Kempton started the whole thing with the kick return and we just kind of rolled from there.”
Clinging to a 14-13 lead entering the final quarter, Edwardsburg (1-1) widened the gap a bit on a 25-yard TD run and two-point conversion by senior Caleb Neff with 7:48 remaining in the game.
Five plays into the ensuing drive by Vicksburg, Kempton intercepted a Breitenbach pass and scored his third touchdown of the game four plays later on a 32-yard run.
“Offense, defense and special teams, there wasn’t a spot where he didn’t factor big into this game,” Bartz added about Kempton. “He’s probably one of the smallest kids out there, but he’s got the biggest heart and he’s probably one of the toughest kids we’ve had.”
Said Kempton: “Bartz told me to be on the hash. That’s where I was, and (Breitenbach) just threw it right to me. I just keep going. I love the game and just keep playing.”
Keifer’s 5-yard run capped the scoring with 1:52 left in the game.
“We finally put everything together as a team,” Bartz said. “We have a very young team. We have only two starters back from last year’s squad, and I think these guys have been just trying to find themselves and in the second half we finally figured out who we were and what we could do.”
Vicksburg 6 7 0 7 – 20
Edwardsburg 0 8 6 23 – 37
V – Johnson, 31, pass from Breitenbach (kick failed), 6-0
E – Kempton, 42, run (Bywaters run), 8-6
V – McCaw, 10, pass from Breitenbach (Moore kick), 13-8
E – Kempton, 96, kick return (run failed), 14-13
E: Neff, 25, run (Neff run), 22-13
E – Kempton, 32, run (Kiefer run), 30-13
V – McCaw, 6, pass from Breitenbach (Moore kick), 30-20
E – Kiefer, 5, run (Szalweski kick), 37-20
Rushing – Vicksburg 60 yards (Alex Holley 11-24), Edwardsburg 439 yards (Michael Kempton 16-207, David Kiefer 12-105)
Passing – Vicksburg 220 yards (Caleb Breitenbach 19-38-1-220), Edwardsburg 33 yards (Dante Razzano 1-1-0-29)
Turnovers – Vicksburg 1, Edwardsburg 3
Penalties – Vicksburg 8-55, Edwardsburg 5-37