Published 6:18 pm Saturday, October 11, 2003
By By DAN WEISS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- For the second time this season the Niles varsity football team beat a Top 10 opponent Friday night, a victory that guaranteed the Vikings their third straight playoff berth.
Niles beat Division 4 No. 10-ranked Marshall 19-14 to improve to 6-1 on the season.
The Vikings host Dowagiac next Friday before travelling to St. Joseph to end the regular season.
Niles scored the winning touchdown late in the second quarter when Lonnie Jones broke free for a 76-yard touchdown run.
Neither team scored in the second half, but Marshall came close on several occasions.
Twice in the third quarter the Redskins had first downs inside the Vikings' 10-yard line, but both times the Niles defense stood firm.
The Redskins' other opportunity to score the go-ahead touchdown came on a Niles possession when Todd Gore intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown. The play, however, was called back due to a pair of penalties. The first penalty was an illegal shift against Niles and the second was clipping against Marshall. The penalties offset each other and Niles maintained possession, which raised some controversy from Marshall coach Rich Hulkow.
Niles' first score came late in the first quarter when Josh Schoenthaler blocked Patrick McCloskey's punt and recovered the loose ball in Marshall's end zone. Marcus Lawshea added the extra point.
Marshall answered when Niles fumbled a punt return and the Redskins took over at the Niles nine-yard line. On the first play, Joe Hutson bolted into the end zone. Keegan Dillon kicked the extra point.
The Redskins took a 14-7 lead when Hutson scored on a one-yard carry just one minute into the second quarter and Dillon kicked another extra point.
Niles, however, chopped the lead to one point on Jones' 21-yard touchdown run four minutes later.
Jones finished with 260 yards on 32 carries, but only covered 39 yards in the second half. Niles managed just seven yards of total offense after halftime.
Marshall's passing game struggled too, despite highly-touted junior quarterback Evan Sharpley who has already passed for more than 1,000 yards this season.
Sharpley completed just 5-of-22 passes for 54 yards with three interceptions.
Marcus Lawshea, Dane Ford and James Edwards each picked off a Sharpley pass.