Niles wins on close call
Published 5:48 am Saturday, October 23, 2004
By By ADAM FISHER / Niles Daily Star
Niles beat St. Joseph Friday by inches. Literally.
The Vikings offense faced a fourth down with one yard to go at their own 38-yard line with less than four minutes remaining. Niles head coach Dave Janicki, clinging to a 26-21 lead, took a chance and went for it.
Quarterback Nick Etzcorn took the ball up the middle on a sneak and appeared to come up short. On the measurement, the nose of the football barely scrapped the stick, giving Niles the first down.
The Vikings scored four plays later on a 52-yard outburst by running back Lyle Watson to seal 32-21 victory.
The measurement on the play was so close that St. Joseph's players began celebrating after the placed down.
Niles' offense grinded the ball on the ground all night long, putting together scoring drives of 7:44, 6:53 and 5:32. Both teams had such long possessions that they each had only two drives in the second half.
Watson's score that put the game out of reach was his third touchdown of the game. He rushed for 193 yards and two scores on 33 carries. Watson also caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Etzcorn.
Watson scored seven touchdowns in the final two games of the season, both wins. He ran for four scores last week against Dowagiac.
As a team, the Vikings gained 286 yards on the ground, their highest total of the season.
After Niles grabbed a 13-0 lead in the first quarter, the Bears came back to score 21 in the second period. St. Joseph carried a 21-19 lead into halftime.
Because the Vikings had trouble stopping the Bears, Janicki told his team at the intermission the best defense is a good offense.
After a 1-6 start to the 2004 season, the lone victory coming by forfeit, Friday's victory gave Niles a 3-6 record on the season. The Vikings finish 2-2 in the SMAC West Division.