Happy Homecoming for Niles
By By DAN WEISS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Four first-half turnovers by the visiting Battle Creek Lakeview Spartans and another outstanding performance from senior running back Lonnie Jones helped Niles run away with a 41-8 victory Friday night in the Homecoming game.
Niles, coming off its first loss of the season against Battle Creek Central last week, capitalized on two of the Spartans' turnovers in the first half and scored on two other possessions to lead 28-0 at halftime before adding a pair of second-half touchdowns before giving up one score late in the game.
The Vikings are now 3-1 on the year while Lakeview drops to 2-2 overall.
Jones came within 27 yards of reaching 1,000 for the season as he carried the ball 17 times for 245 yards and four touchdowns. He scored on carries of 56, 47, 12 and 20 yards.
Against Battle Creek Central, Jones rushed for just 160 yards and one touchdown.
The first touchdown of the game cam with 4:24 left in the first quarter when Jones broke free for a 56-yard carry. On the extra point attempt, a high snap forced holder Paul Wreggelsworth to scramble with the ball. He lofted a pass into the end zone and Alex Robinson came down with the reception to give Niles an early 8-0 lead.
Lakeview turned the ball over twice in the first quarter but Niles did not capitalize on either of the opportunities. Following an interception by Marcus Lawshea early in the second quarter, however, Niles made the Spartans pay for their mistake.
Jones' second touchdown was a dramatic one as he rumbled 47 yards, breaking multiple tackles along the way and even pulling several Spartans into the end zone with him. Lawshea kicked the extra point.
Jones scored again, just five minutes later on a 12-yard carry. This time Lawshea's kick was no good.
Lakeview fumbled on its next possession and again Niles made the Spartans pay. Jones went 20 yards into the end zone for his fourth, and final, touchdown of the game. Lawshea kicked the extra point.
Jones' final touchdown ended the first-half scoring, but Niles didn't need much time to re-establish the momentum in the second half.
On their first possession, the Vikings drove the ball 74 yards and finished with a three-yard touchdown carry by quarterback Jason Rutkowske. Lawshea's extra point kick was blocked.
Niles' only turnover of the game came midway through the third quarter when a pass by Rutkowske was picked off in the Lakeview end zone by Dustin Carroll.
The Vikings' final score of the game came midway through the fourth quarter when Josh Schoenthaller bolted 27 yards to paydirt. Lawshea's extra point gave Niles a 41-0 lead and activated the 35-point running-clock mercy rule.
Lakeview finally scored when backup quarterback Nathaniel Woodson sprinted 17 yards into the end zone. A two-point conversion run by A.J. Grumeretz gave the Spartans their final score.
Rutkowske completed 5-of-9 passes for 69 yards one one interception.
Schoenthaller, who moved to Niles from Colorado in the offseason, finished with 11 carries for 113 yards after carrying the ball just once in the first half.
Jones did not step on the field after the third quarter.
Charlie Burnham led the Spartans' rushing attack with 21 carries for 109 yards. Starting quarterback Carl Mulder completed 4-of-11 passes for 49 yards one one interception.
Niles opens Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference West Division play next Friday as it hosts Lakeshore.