Niles gives St. Joe all it wants before falling

Published 3:10 am Friday, September 21, 2007

By By STEVE MORRISON / Niles Daily Star
NILES – The old saying that the game was closer than the final score indicated became a painful reality to inspired Niles Viking football team that was defeated 21-6 by the St. Joseph Bears at the Niles High School football field on a muggy Friday night.
The Bears came into the game with a 4-0 record and looked to have an easy time of against a 2-2 Viking squad. Not until a 3-yard touchdown dive by Bears workhorse running Ryan Bock with 5:33 left in the fourth quarter did the outcome appear to be decided.
Led by some solid defensive work up front by Kenyon Ellison and Trevor Ernsberger, and some great play in the middle from Ben Brandstatter, Michael Dodd, Alec Taylor, and Daniel Holland the Vikings did their best to hold the visiting beasts at bay. Michael Dodd made a stealthy recovery of a St. Joseph fumble at Niles goal line after St. Joseph quarterback Ethan Schweir had completed a 15-yard pass to his favorite wideout, Brad Guinane, who appeared to have scored a touchdown in the middle of the third quarter. Dodd returned the ball to Niles' 24 yard line to rebuff the scoring attempt. D.J. Wolnik intercepted a Schweir pass at the end of the first quarter to stymie a St. Joseph charge as well.
After a scoreless first quarter, St. Joe struck first on the scoreboard. After a 40-yard punt return by the Bears' Robby Shuler to Niles' 45 yard line, Schweir rifled a 33-yard bomb to Guinane who romped into the end zone. Brett Virgil tacked on the extra point to put the Bears up 7-0.
Niles answered that charge with a touchdown-scoring drive of their own on their next possession. Starting on their own 20, the Vikes took seven plays, including a sharp 15 yard completion by Jordan to Andre White, to set up a five yard burst by Brandstatter to bring the Vikings within a point 7-6. The Bears' McCade Reese blocked the extra point attempt.
With 1:24 left in the half, Schweir pulled off one of the finest plays of the night, hooking up with Averill Palmer on a 34 yard slant in that put St. Joseph ahead 14-6 with the point after. That is how the half concluded.
Ben Brandstatter continued his customary north to south explosions with 194 yards on 30 carries to give the Vikings hope. David Davis chipped in with 46 yards on nine carries. The Vikings seemed set on pounding their running backs against the Bears, but the came up short time after time. Viking quarterback Seth Jordan completed 4 of 12 passes, but was injured late in the game by a bone crushing swarm of Bears that piled on him and wrenched his shoulder.
The Bears put their claws into the Vikings for one last slash, using Bock as a battering ram, play after play, for 54 of his 91 yards on the night, to finish off the scoring and put the game in the bag 21-6.
Niles will travel to Portage Northern on Friday night for another Big 16 Conference non-divisional contest.
The Bears will host arch rival Lakeshore on Friday night.
St. Joseph 0 14 0 7 – 21
Niles 0 6 0 0 – 6
SJ – Schweir 33 pass to B. Guinane (Virgil kick)
NI – Brandstatter 5 run (kick failed)
SJ – Schweir 34 pass to Palmer (Virgil kick)
SJ – Bock 3 run (Virgil kick)