Close call for Niles freshmen

Published 4:28 am Friday, September 28, 2007

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES – The Niles freshmen football team is still on an impressive winning streak.
The Vikings picked up their fifth win of the season Thursday with a thrilling 36-34 come from behind victory over visiting Portage Northern. The win keeps Niles undefeated with a 5-0 record.
Trailing 34-22 with four minutes left to play, the Vikes scored on a 73-yard pass from Nick Lucero to Trey Nichols, who drug the defender for at least 5-yards before breaking free near the endzone. The two-point conversion was attempted, but failed for Niles, bringing the score to 34-28.
The strong defense of Niles stopped the Huskies and allowed them to regain possession of the ball.
The Vikings scored on a 12-yard pass from Lucero to Justin Pothoff, tying the game at 34 with just over one minute left to play. Niles again went for the two-point conversion, this one landing in the hands of Nichols in the endzone and putting the Vikes ahead for good.
On the opening kickoff of the game, Justin Potthoff returned the ball 78-yards, setting up quarterback Nick Lucero for a 1-yard sneak. The two-point conversion pass from Lucero to Nichols put the Vikes up 8-0 early in the game.
Portage Northern came right back though, and scored on a 60-yard pass from Chris Lanieux. The two-point conversion was no good, bringing the score to 8-6.
In the second quarter, Niles scored at the 9:26 mark on a Lucero 1-yard sneak. The two-point conversion was no good, but the Vikes continued to hold the lead, 14-6.
Lanieux put the Huskies on the board again with a 38-yard and a 31-yard run late in the second, which brought the score to 28-14 at halftime.
In the third, Jordan Potthoff scored on a 6-yard run and ran in the two-point conversion, bringing Niles closer to the Huskies, 28-22.
The Viking defense forced two fumbles in the second half, both which were recovered by Cody Sisk. Even with the strong defense, Northern's Lanieux still scored another touchdown for the Huskies to extend the lead 34-22.
That's the last time Portage Northern would see the endzone, as Niles went on to score the last two touchdowns of the game for the win.
Lucero helped lead the Vikes to victory with 90 yards rushing and 187 yards passing.
"He missed some of the first half with an ankle injury, but really showed some courage to come back from this and make huge plays on both side of the ball," freshmen assistant coach Todd Pawielski said.
Nichols ended the night with 117 yards receiving.
Ronnie Smith and Colin Burant played strong on defense for Niles, while Nichols and Jordan and Justin Potthoff led a second half charge.
"The kids really rose to the challenge of being down at halftime for the first time this season," Pawielski added.