Niles bounces back to rout Three Rivers 56-8

Published 12:34 am Saturday, September 9, 2023

NILES — The Niles football team bounced back in a big way Friday night against visiting Three Rivers.

The host Vikings rebounded from their last-second loss to Lakeshore last week by declawing the Wildcats en route to a 56-8 win in their Wolverine Conference opener.

“We got off to a good start again,” said Niles Coach Scot Shaw. “Everything was clicking and our kids played hard. They understand what winning the conference means and they know that when we play hard, good things happen… The kids up front block pretty well. Defensively, we were all over the ball. It was just a good team effort, a great team effort.”

The Vikings rushed for 263 yards and led 21-0 after the first quarter and 49-0 at halftime. Quarterback Talon Brawley completed 2 of 3 passes for 85 yards and added five carries for 39 yards and two touchdowns (7 and 10 yards) and fullback Paul Hess had 14 carries for 52 yards and two touchdowns (7 and 2 yards). Julian Means-Flewellen ahd four carries for 94 yards and a 43-yard touchdown run and Peyton Gordon added five carries for 30 yards and a touchdown. Sam Rucker added three carries for 38 yards and had a 52-yard catch and Brenden Olsen hauled in a 33-yard pass.

Three Rivers’ Caleb Quake completed 11-of-21 passes for 105 yards and two interceptions and added 14 carries for 25 yards and a touchdown. Drew McClain caught seven passes for 45 yards.

Niles’ defense stifled Three Rivers, with their lone score coming via a Quake touchdown run near the end of the game against Vikings backups. Alex Cole led the team with eight tackles and Alex Anderson added six. Defensive back Jaden Ivery wowed the crowd with two first half interception returns (42 and 32 yards) for touchdowns.

“It’s no big secret that we’ve struggled with pass defense and tonight we looked great at it,” Shaw said. “He made two great breaks and was able to get clean. It’s been a long time since I I’ve seen two pick-sixes for touchdowns.”

Show was also impressed by the play of his senior signal caller, Brawley, who efficiently executed the flexbone offense against Three Rivers.

“He runs the show and we go as he goes,” he said. “He makes a lot of great decisions and puts the ball in people’s hands that can do some things within and he can score. He’s just a great kid and a great quarterback and he threw the ball well tonight. He just had another great all-around game.”

Niles (2-1) hits the road next week to face Otsego (0-3), which lost to Vicksburg 35-28. The Vikings have won seven of their last nine games dating back to last season and Shaw believes the program is continuing its upward momentum.

“Our kids have a very good understanding of our offense and they’ve got a good understanding of what it takes to play good defense,” he said. “You put those two things together, it spells success most of the time. I’m real proud of them.”