Eddies ground game leads the wayPublished 12:07am Saturday, September 22, 2012
The turf at Leo Hoffman Field may require extra attention by the grounds crew this coming week following Edwardsburg’s high-octane rushing performance Friday night against Three Rivers.
Minus injured senior starters Michael Kempton and David Kiefer, the Eddies churned out a whopping 507 rushing yards in a thrilling 49-41 Wolverine Conference South Division victory over the Wildcats.
Edwardsburg (4-1, 2-0 Wolverine West) got two touchdowns and a game-high 188 rushing yards on 16 carries from junior Jack Bywaters, while junior teammate Caleb Neff scored a pair of touchdowns and rushed for 157 yards on just 11 carries.
Junior Tyler Williamson had just four carries, but three of them went for touchdowns, and he chipped in with 60 overland yards.
“Those kids were getting maybe a handful of touches every game, but with Kempton and Kiefer out those kids really stepped up,” Edwardsburg head coach Kevin Bartz said. “They were all playing on defense for us, too, and for Bywaters and Neff to combine for (345) yards is awesome.”
Williamson opened the scoring on a 43-yard run, just more than two minutes after the opening kickoff, and the shootout was on.
Following a 1-yard run by Three Rivers quarterback Sam Shutes, Neff answered for the Eddies on an 11-yard run to cap a 7-play, 73-yard march.
Corry Brown scored the first of his three touchdowns for the Wildcats on a 14-yard run, but Neff answered again five plays later with a 61-yard dash to paydirt.
Edwardsburg forced two Three Rivers turnovers in the second quarter, but failed to capitalize on either opportunity.
Three Rivers (3-2, 2-1) capped the first-half scoring on a 12-yard run by Brown, and then took a short-lived 28-21 lead when Shutes hit teammate Brady Reeves on a 6-yard TD pass at the end of a 15-play drive that spanned 79 yards to open the second half.
Enter Bywaters and Williamson.
Bywaters’ 47-yard TD scamper was followed by a successful conversion run by senior Jason Schimpa, and Williamson scored on runs of 4 and 10 yards early in the fourth quarter to stake the Eddies to a 43-34 lead with 3:31 remaining in the game.
A 12-yard TD run by Shutes cut the gap to 43-41 with 1:09 remaining. Following an unsuccessful onside kick, Bywaters exploded out of the backfield en route to a 51-yard scoring run that sealed the Wildcats’ fate.
“You can’t get through the line without the offensive line; you can’t get into the end zone without them,” Bywaters said about an offensive line that includes Travis Myrick, Seth Williams, Jacob Widup, Joe Carter and Forrest Lewis.
“Coach (Bartz) always tells us, ‘three yards per carry,’ but you can’t get them without the entire line doing their job and blocking for us.”
“Our offensive line has been dominant all year, and they showed that again tonight,” Bartz said. “The backs were coming off the field saying, ‘Those holes are huge out there.’ We told them to hold onto the football, get those three or four yards, and if you break one off that’s even better, and we got a few of those, as well.”
Bartz was particularly happy with the fact that his offensive unit did not commit a turnover.
“Offensively, which has been our most effective aspect all year, we had no turnovers on the ground all night. That was a key for us, and we made enough plays to hang on to the victory,” he said. “Other than the little bit of a lull we had in the second quarter, I thought we dominated the line of scrimmage on the offensive side.”
Three Rivers finished with 417 yards of total offense. Brown rushed 18 times for 147 yards, while Shutes completed 12 of his 25 pass attempts for 172 yards.
Three Rivers 14 7 7 13 – 41
Edwardsburg 14 7 8 20 – 49
E – Williamson 43 run (run failed)
TR – Shutes 1 run (Gard kick)
E – Neff 11 run (Bywaters run)
TR – Brown 14 run (Gard kick)
E – Neff 61 run (Szalewski kick)
TR – Brown 12 run (Gard kick)
TR – Reeves 6 pass from Shutes (Gard kick)
E – Bywaters 47 run (Schimpa run)
E – Williamson 4 run (Szalewski kick)
TR – Brown 55 run (pass failed)
E – Williamson 10 run (Szalewski kick)
TR – Shutes 12 run (Gard kick)
E – Bywaters 51 run (kick failed)