Tigers’ big plays sink Vikings

Published 3:39 am Saturday, October 2, 2004

By By ADAM FISHER / Niles Daily Star
Take away a few big plays and some costly turnovers, and Niles didn't play too bad Friday against Benton Harbor.
Not bad doesn't win ball games, however, as the Vikings lost 34-7 to the Tigers at home on Homecoming. With the loss, Niles remains winless on the season at 0-6.
The Vikings started the game the way head coach Dave Janicki wanted - running the football. On their first possession, they drove 46 yards on the ground, but couldn't convert on a fourth down, giving the ball to Benton Harbor.
But while Niles' offense looked improved, its defense looked like the team that had gone 0-5.
On the Tigers' very first offensive play, running back Joique Bell took the ball 61 yards for a touchdown to give Benton Harbor a 7-0 lead.
In the second quarter, Niles kept the ball moving on the ground. Quarterback Nick Etzcorn ended a 66-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to tie the score at 7-7.
But Etzcorn fumbled the ball at Niles' 12-yard line on the next possession to set up a Benton Harbor 33-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the half.
The play was a halfback pass, thrown by Bell, who threw for another touchdown in the third quarter. He then ran for another score, a 28-yarder in the fourth quarter, to cap his four-touchdown night.
Niles enjoyed some success on the ground, but was never able to get deep into Tiger territory after its initial toucdown. The Vikings ran for 141 yards, led by Paul Bella's 66.
They continued to struggle in the air, however. Etzcorn completed 2-of-11 passes for 12 yards and two interceptions.
Niles also lost two fumbles, which Benton Harbor turned into 14 points.
The Vikings' inability to stop the run, the bane of the team all season, again hurt them Friday. The Tigers gained 270 yards rushing. Bell had 140.
Benton Harbor also threw for 97 yards on five completions.
The Tigers out-gained Niles in total offense, 367 yards to 153.