Jones carries Niles football to first ever State Playoff victory
Published 8:10 pm Saturday, November 1, 2003
By By DAN WEISS / Niles Daily Star
STURGIS -- Lonnie Jones shattered his own record along with the hopes of No. 10 Sturgis as the Niles football team earned its first ever State Playoff victory Friday night, upsetting the Trojans 34-28.
Jones rushed for a Niles record 366 yards, breaking his own record of 302 yards, and scored all five touchdowns for the Vikings, which advance to their first ever District championship game next week against Lakeshore.
Jones scored on runs of one, 16, 82, 83 and 39 yards. Stacy Caskey kicked four extra points.
The Vikings, now 7-3, found themselves trailing early in the game as Sturgis (8-2) opened the scoring with a one-yard touchdown run by Tim Charles and an extra-point kick by Kyle Zable.
Niles, however, came right back and scored on Jones' one-yard blast and tied the game with Caskey's kick.
Jones then gave Niles its first lead with his 16-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Caskey's extra point gave the Vikings a 14-7 halftime advantage.
Following the intermission, Jones put Niles ahead by two touchdowns when he broke free for an 82-yard run and Caskey kicked the extra point.
Sturgis closed the gap with a nine-yard scoring run by Charles and Zable's second extra-point kick.
Jones again broke free, this time from 83 yards out, to regain the 14 point advantage after Caskey's kick.
Sturgis answered with a 55-yard touchdown pass from Zach Gentile to Raju Armster and a kick by Zable.
Sturgis then tied the game early in the fourth quarter when Charles scored from 21 yards out and Zable made the kick.
The Trojans stopped Niles from scoring once before Jones scored the final touchdown on a 39-yard rumble. Sophomore Nick Etzcorn filled in for Caskey who suffered an injury late in the game and missed the extra-point kick.
The Niles defense withstood two offensive possessions by the Trojans to preserve the victory.
With his record-setting performance, Jones has accumulated 2,358 rushing yards this season and scored 27 touchdowns and 166 points. He surpassed the southwest Michigan single season rushing record of 2,239 set by Dowagiac's Brent Lesniak in 1996. Jones is currently 15th on the all-time single season rushing list for the state of Michigan.