MONTCALM — Being aggressive was the focus for the Montcalm High School football team Friday night and it resulted in the first win of the season for the Generals.
Montcalm asserted itself defensively on the first drive of the game and used that momentum to jump to an early lead which it maintained for a 41-18 victory over Hannan at Prudich Stadium.
The Generals (1-6), playing in front of their home fans for the first time since Sept. 5, sent the Wildcats (0-3) back 17 yards on the initial drive before taking over.
“I was very pleased with the aggressiveness that we showed on the first drive and in the first half in general,” said Montcalm head coach Adam Havens.
The Montcalm offense then went right to work as its second play from scrimmage was a handoff to Noah White that went 63 yards for the opening score three minutes in.
The sophomore running back was barely touched on the carry as running room was opened up by the offensive line.
“They gave me that gap and Tyler Pigg had a great final block and as soon as I saw the open field I knew no one was catching me,” White said.
Montcalm has struggled to stop team on opening drives this season and with them being able to that, the offense used that momentum to score.
“Anytime you can get a stop like that on the first drive of the game its going to give confidence on offense especially with our kids as they play both ways,” Havens said.
Hannan could not get anything going on the ground in the first half finishing with negative 26 yards on eight carries. They were able to pass for 82 yards but Havens had his team focused on slowing the running game throughout.
“We knew coming in that their inside run game was a big part of their offense and all week we stressed filling gaps and stopping the inside run game,” Havens said.
The Wildcats found success in the second half on the ground rushing for 187 yards and finishing with a total of 161 yards. Those yards came with Havens making changes in the defensive look and moving players around.
Montcalm added a second score in the first quarter when Kevin Robertson found Ethan Nichols for a 19-yard touchdown reception.
Robertson passed for 96 yards and also had a team-high 164 yards rushing including a four-yard dive in the second quarter and a 21-yard scamper in the final stanza.
The Generals build the lead up to 20-0 after one quarter as Nichols ran a fake punt 76 yards for a score.
Montcalm rushed for 318 yards in the game and threw for 96, the best performance for the team this season.
“Every game we add something new and it just builds up and tonight was the night,” Nichols said.
Getting Robertson, Nichols and White into space his the focus for the Generals on offense and worked with each of them picking up a pair of touchdowns.
“We know we like our chances when those guys get into space and that’s what our offense revolves around is getting those guys in space and letting them make a play,” Havens said.
Hannan got on the scoreboard with 13 seconds left in the first half on a 23-yard pass from Logan Barker to Gage Burris but Montcalm answered immediately. White took the ensuing kickoff back 75 yards for the score as the clock hit zeroes.
Last week Montcalm scored early but was unable to keep up the scoring against Wahama but this time they kept it up with five touchdowns in the first half and a smother defense that didn’t allow a first down until the last drive of the first half for Hannan.
“Even though they made adjustments we kept our rhythm and we kept attacking and we built on that momentum,” Havens said.
Both teams were beset by penalties in the second half and adjustments that the other team made. The teams combined for 21 penalties on the night.
To finish the game there was a moment of exemplary sportsmanship as Montcalm allowed Hannan’s Nathaniel Wilson, a player who is autistic, to score a 71-yard touchdown. Both teams celebrated with him in the end zone following his score.
Having been on the road for the last five games and winless until this game it is a big confidence boost for the team as it prepares for the final stretch of the regular season.
“It’s just good to be home, it’s good to get a win, kind of jumpstart the last three games of the season and it’s just nothing but building confidence right now,” Havens said.
Montcalm is scheduled to travel to Meadow Bridge next Friday night before playing its final two games of the regular season at home.
at Prudich Stadium
Hannan…… 0 6 0 12 — 18
Montcalm… 20 14 0 7 — 41
M — Noah White 63-yard run (Luke Nunn kick) 9:06
M — Ethan Nichols 19-yard pass from Kevin Robertson (Nunn kick) 5:23
M — Nichols 76-yard run (kick missed) 1:29
M — Robertson 4-yard run (kick missed) 9:44
H — Gage Burris 23-yard pass from Logan Barker (run failed) 13.1
M — White 75-yard kickoff return (Markus Thomason run) 0.0
H — Burris 23-yard pass from Barker (run failed) 4:05
M — Robertson 21-yard run (Nunn kick) 1:20
H — Nathaniel Wilson 71-yard run (run failed) 59.1
First downs: H 12; M 10. Rush-Yards: H 29-161; M 33-318. Pass yards: H 111; M 96. Comp-Att-Int: H 8-19-1; M 3-8-0. Fumbles-lost: H 3-0; M 3-0. Penalty-Yards: H 9-81; M 12-80. Punts-Avg: H 3-42.3; M 1-18.
Rushing: H Logan Barker 14-98, Nathaniel Wilson 1-62, Dylan Starkey 11-16, Gage Burris 3-(-14); M Kevin Robertson 18-164, Ethan Nichols 4-86, Noah White 4-72, Tyler Pigg 4-19, Markus Thomason 1-3.
Passing: H Logan Barker 6-13-2 td-96-0 int, Gage Burris 2-6-0 td-15-1 int; M Kevin Robertson 3-7-1 td-96-0 int, Ethan Nichols 0-1-0 td-0-0 int.
Receiving: H Gage Burris 5-90, Logan Barker 2-15, Dylan Starkey 1-6; M Ethan Nichols 2-45, Grayson Thomason.
Turnovers: H none; M Ethan Nichols interception.