Big second half lifts Huskies past Vikings
Published 7:51 am Monday, September 21, 2015
The Niles football team led for the first time this year Saturday against Portage Northern.
But the Vikings eventually couldn’t overcome their second half mistakes as the Huskies pulled away in the second half and beat Niles, 53-27.
Portage Northern scored 27 points off of four Niles turnovers in the second half. The Huskies led only 26-21 at halftime.
“We have to execute and quit having the silly turnovers,” said Niles football coach Antwon Jones, whose team fell to 0-4 overall and 0-2 in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West Division. “If they’re going to pick us off make them earn it, don’t throw it right to them. That’s’ what we’re working on and we just have to get better.”
After falling behind 13-0 in the first quarter, Niles bounced back to take its first lead of the year at 14-13 with 9:04 left in the second quarter. Cameron Haines’ seven-yard touchdown run and Jason Echeverria’s extra-point gave the Vikings the lead.
But the lead didn’t last for long as Portage Northern scored 1:39 later on an Eric Coley 42-yard touchdown pass to Daryn Snow.
The lead would exchange hands two more times in the second quarter. Alex Harpenau connected with Trey Gray on a nine-yard score to give the Vikings a 21-20 lead with 5:00 left in the second quarter and Noah Hecht scored on a four-yard touchdown run to give the Huskies a 26-21 lead with 3:11 left in the second quarter.
A 38-yard touchdown pass from Harpenau to Gray cut Portage Northern’s lead to 33-27 with 7:08 left in the third quarter.
Niles got the ball back after stopping the Huskies on downs, but the Vikings lost a fumble on its next possession and Portage Northern recovered at the Vikings 25-yard line. Two plays later, Grant McNally ran three yards for a score to extend the visitors lead to 40-27 with 2:02 left in the third quarter.
Harpenau completed 20-of-46 passes for 279 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Gray caught eight passes for 133 yards with three touchdowns.
“We were playing some decent ball then kind of played bad towards the end there,” Jones said. “We made silly mistakes and didn’t tackle very well.”
Portage Northern, which improved to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the West Division, rushed for 324 yards.
A scary moment took place in the third quarter as Niles running back Joe Avance was taken off on a stretcher after getting hurt on a running play.
“His neck was sore and for precautionary reasons you have to send him to the hospital,” Jones said. “That hurt us a lot.”
PORTAGE NORTHERN 53, NILES 27
P. Northern 13 13 14 13 – 53
Niles 0 21 6 0 – 27
P – Daryn Snow 15 pass from Eric Coley (kick failed)
P – Noah Hecht 6 run (Coley kick)
N – Tre Gray 3 pass from Alex Harpenau (Jason Echeverria kick)
N – Cameron Haines 7 run (Echeverria kick)
P – Snow 42 pass from Coley (Coley kick)
N – Gray 9 pass from Harpenau (Echeverria kick)
P – Hecht 4 run (pass failed)
P – Coley 11 run (Coley kick)
N – Gray 38 pass from Harpenau (pass failed)
P – Grant McNally 3 run (Coley kick)
P – Coley 2 run (kick blocked)
P – Hecht 34 run (Coley kick)