Niles can’t stop run

Published 12:08 am Saturday, August 28, 2004

By By ADAM FISHER / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Niles started off with a potent rushing attack Friday, but Mattawan's defense quickly caught up, as the Vikings lost their season opener at home 21-12.
Turnovers were also keys in the loss, as all three Mattawan scores came following Niles miscues.
Niles' offense started the game in its own territory, via a partial block of a Mattawan punt. The fifth play of the drive was a 24-yard touchdown run by junior Lyle Watson. After the missed PAT, the Vikings had an early 6-0 lead.
After that drive, Mattawan's defense shut down Niles' offense, allowing the Vikings 180 yards the rest of the game.
Of that total, 120 yards came on the ground. Niles rushed for just 27 yards in the second half. The Vikings compiled only 60 yards total in the third and fourth quarters.
On the other side of the ball, Niles' defense couldn't stop the Wildcats' running game. Mattawan rushed for 260 yards on 49 attempts.
Mattawan's offensive line created gaping holes for its rushers, allowing them to go five or six yards before contact on many plays.
While Janicki gave credit to the Wildcats' offense, he said his players did a poor job of tackling in many instances.
With Niles up 6-0 in the first quarter, the Vikings faced a fourth and one at Mattawan's two yard line. Quarterback Jason Rutkowske faked the handoff and rolled left, throwing incomplete to turn the ball over on downs.
It was the last time the Vikings would be inside the red zone.
Where Niles' run game failed, its passing game didn't fare much better. Rutkowske completed 10 of 24 passes for 97 yards and two interceptions.
Mattawan head coach Dave Lawrence said his defense kept the pressure on the Vikings, and that was the key to the game.
This was the first time Mattawan has beaten Niles in its four years in the conference.
All of Mattawan's three touchdowns came in the second quarter.
After the Wildcats' third touchdown of the period, Niles ran a reverse play on the ensuing kickoff. Adrian Davis caught the kick, then reversed it to Otis West at midfield.
The trick play worked, as West took the ball 78 yards untouched to the endzone. The two-point conversion run attempt failed, and the Vikings were within nine points at 21-12.
That was all the scoring to be had by either team, as both stayed off the board in the second half.
Paul Bella led Niles in rushing, gaining 40 yards on seven carries. Watson finished with 30 yards on four carries.