Niles nearly comes back
Published 12:51 am Saturday, September 4, 2004
By By ADAM FISHER / Niles Daily Star
Niles came out in Friday's second half against Harper Creek using a big passing attack to out-gain and out-score the Beavers.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, they were already in a three touchdown hole to start the half because of their defense's inability to stop the run and their offense's inability to score.
The Vikings started the game by driving into Beaver territory. Harper Creek intercepted quarterback Jason Rutkowske's pass, however, and returned it to the 8-yard line.
The turnover set up a touchdown run by Harper Creek's Kyle Johnson two plays later.
A 19-yard pass from Rutkowske to tight end Nick Etzcorn on the Vikings' next possession tied the score at 7-7.
That's when Niles' defense broke down.
The Vikings gave up a touchdown pass of 53 yards and a scoring run of 33 yards and found themselves down 21-7.
On Niles' next possesion, Rutkowske threw his second interception of the game with the Vikings at Harper Creek's 18. The Beavers' John Burdette picked off the pass in the endzone as Rutkowske tried to float a pass to receiver Paul Wreggelsworth.
With 19 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Rutkowske was hit after a pass and hurt his right thumb, his non-throwing hand. Etzcorn replaced him, throwing one incompletion before the end of the half.
Janicki said after the game that Rutkowske's thumb appears to be broken, but the coaching staff isn't sure yet.
Etzcorn played the entire second half and helped Niles' struggling offense turn around.
The junior back-up quarterback completed 13-of-19 passes for 144 yards, including two touchdowns. Etzcorn also ran for a touchdown and a two-point conversion.
The passing attack was much more potent Friday for Niles than it was in Week One. Rutkowske and Etzcorn combined to connect on 21-of-35 passes for 269 yards, three times as many yards as in Niles' first game.
Etzcorn nearly became the game's hero late in the fourth quarter.
With the Vikings down 34-13 with little hope and just five minutes remaining, Etzcorn connected on three straight passes to wide receiver Adrian Davis for 43 yards. Etzcorn capped the two-minute drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
After Harper Creek punted with 49 seconds remaining, Etzcorn took Niles on a two-play, 49-yard drive that spanned 16 seconds. He completed a 27-yard pass to Davis, then a 22-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Anglin.
After Etzcorn dove across the goal-line for the two-point conversion, Niles was within a touchdown, 34-27 with 27 second left.
Harper Creek recovered the ensuing onside kick, however, to put an end to Niles' comeback hopes.
Janicki said, with Etzcorn's performance, he has a shot at taking over the starting quarterback position next week.