Wednesday, December 4, 2013
NEWPORT — The turnovers — all three of them — didn’t help. Neither did the five sacks allowed, nine penalties and poor starting field position.
Throw in a few big passing plays from traditional run-heavy Belfast, and it was a tough Saturday afternoon for the Nokomis football team.
Senior quarterback Zach Collier completed 10 of 17 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown to lead the Lions past the Warriors 20-6 in a Big Ten Conference game. Collier also rushed for 42 yards and two touchdowns.
“This is a win that we needed,” Belfast coach Chris Bartlett said. “It’s a big win against a good, physical football team. You want a competitive game going into the playoffs and we got one.”
Noah Kershner rushed for a team-high 76 yards and a touchdown to lead the Warriors (3-4).
“They were a hair better than us,” Nokomis coach Matt O’Connell said. “We’re making strides. Limiting turnovers and penalties is part of becoming a well-rounded football team. We’re getting there.”
Mike McFadden rushed for a team-high 89 yards on six carries for the Lions (4-3). However, Nokomis held Belfast leading rusher Greg Clark to just 38 rushing yards.
“They did a good job against the run today,” Bartlett said, “so we had to go to the pass a little more than we usually do.”
The plan worked.
Collier rushed for an 8-yard touchdown run just 3 minutes, 15 seconds into the game to give Belfast a 6-0 lead.
Then, he delivered the big blow when he connected with tight end Korey Doolan on a 9-yard touchdown pass on fourth and goal midway through the second quarter.
The score gave Belfast a 14-0 lead, which forced Nokomis to play catch-up for the rest of the game.
“We usually throw it seven, eight times a game,” Bartlett said. “We threw it more than we usually do, but we had some success. We were able to convert some big plays. They had some issues coverage-wise and we exploited it.”
Nokomis gained some momentum when it sliced the deficit in half in the waning seconds of the half.
After Josh King intercepted Collier with under two minutes left in the second quarter, the Warriors marched down the field behind two big runs from Dylan Thibodeau and Dominic Erickson.
Kershner then plowed in from 8 yards out to put Nokomis on the board with 17 seconds left in the half.
“We came down and had a chance to score and (O’Connell) asked me if I wanted it,” Kershner said. “I said I did and I got the ball. I just found a way in.”
It stayed 14-6 until Collier rushed for a 13-yard touchdown with 8:42 left in the fourth quarter.
“It was tough,” Kershner added. “We fought hard. It was a tough game.”
Belfast cornerback Tyler Tran led a tough defense with two interceptions and a sack. King had a fumble recovery along with the interception for Nokomis.
“We’re close to getting to where we’d like to be,” O’Connell said. “There’s no time to hang our heads. We just have to keep going at it.”
Bill Stewart — 621-5640