A St. Joseph County and Wolverine Conference rivalry game was a one-score affair at one point in the third quarter. Three Rivers, however, continued to execute a balanced offensive attack with junior quarterback Jalen Heivilin throwing four touchdown passes in a 35-7 victory Friday at Sturgis to improve to 2-1.
The Trojans dropped to 1-2 after their second straight loss at home.
Bryce Morlan caught three of those TD passes from Heivilin en route to 142 receiving yards, which included scoring receptions of 10 and 55 yards in the second quarter to give the Wildcats a 14-0 halftime lead. Morlan also kicked five extra points and finished with six tackles.
A Sturgis team that couldn’t get much going on offense did have some sign of life late in the third quarter with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Avery Cleveland to Zach Chapman to make it a 14-7 game. But Three Rivers answered with a 15-yard Nolan Mark rushing TD just over a minute later.
Photos by Scott Rains
Heivilin’s 35-yard TD strike to Morlan and another touchdown throw to Tyler Moore (six yards) in the fourth quarter wrapped up the league win for Three Rivers.
“The (offensive) line is giving me lots of time,” Heivilin said. “My receivers are getting open. When you have such a great receiving corps and such a great line, you can’t not be confident. You know somebody is going to be open and you just have to make the throw.”
Gavin Charvat caught four passes for 29 yards and Zac Meyer had four catches for 14 yards for Three Rivers.
The Wildcats’ 4-2-5 defense stifled Sturgis’ veer, allowing only 133 yards of total offense. Three Rivers posted 316 yards — 220 through the air and 96 on the ground. Heivilin completed 16 of 22 passing attempts with one interception. Jett Haifley led the Wildcats with 38 rushing yards and Mark totaled 34 yards.
Sturgis’ first four possessions ended without a first down. Its fifth ended with a high snap on a 30-yard field goal attempt that gave Three Rivers the ball at the Trojan 31-yard line. The Wildcats would later finish the drive in the end zone for the 14-0 advantage.
Haifley recovered a Sturgis fumble in the fourth quarter, Tyler Moore paced Three Rivers with seven tackles and combined with Morlan on a sack, and Chase Clupper logged a sack. Chris Morrill finished with five stops, while Mitchell Coney, Ryan Mills and Tirrell Hausmanis each had four.
Keegan Smith and Parker Stevens both had six tackles for the Trojans, Tre Fuller and Brian Jordan each notched five, and Zach Chapman and Jackson VanAlmen both produced four. Fuller had a tackle for a loss and a fumble recovery, and Jordan and Dakota Wilson each made a tackle for negative yardage. Brecken Stewart made an interception and returned it 21 yards.
Offensively, Avery Cleveland completed 6 of 9 passing attempts for 115 yards and Tre Fuller and Cleveland both finished with 17 rushing yards.
Three Rivers hosts Otsego (1-2) next Friday and Sturgis hits the road for a contest against Vicksburg (2-1).
Video by Mat Stutzman