In a tough environment, the Sturgis football team didn’t do itself any favors Friday night at Coldwater. And after a charmed existence for three straight weeks, the Trojans couldn’t conjure up another rally in a 34-17 loss to rival Coldwater.
“We just didn’t have it tonight; there was no magic,” Sturgis head coach Jimmy Lamb said.
The Trojans were penalized nine times for 76 yards, gave up 355 rushing yards and dropped too many passes to retain the Silver Football — a frustrating end to a matchup snuffed out by two teams planning to leave the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference next season. Sturgis is bound for the Wolverine Conference and the Cardinals are tentatively planning on entering the new Interstate 8 Conference.
“Their crowd was huge,” said Lamb, whose team dropped to 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the SMAC East Division. “I was excited; I liked it. We had a big crowd, too. I was impressed with the number of Sturgis people that came out and I thanked them for that. We just didn’t put on a show that was worthy of the ticket sales.”
With leading receiver Kalvyn Bowdish (senior) out of the lineup with a sprained ankle, only junior Jack Scheske was on the same page with quarterback Chance Stewart, who finished 8-for-28 passing for 179 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Scheske caught four balls for 137 yards and both touchdowns, which went for 71 and 20 yards.
“We’ve got to have other guys step up,” Lamb said. “Jack [Scheske] played well again tonight. We had a lot of dropped balls. I’ve been in games before with Chance when kids drop a lot of balls. There were a couple that were overthrown a bit, or underthrown, but every other ball should have been caught. In my eyes, those games you win by making those big plays.”
Coldwater (2-3, 2-1) took a 13-0 lead on a pair of short Cooper Murphy runs. Sturgis kept things close with Scheske’s long catch and score, but the Cardinals struck on a 20-yard TD of their own when Lucas Stempien found Luke Beckhusen in the second frame. The Cardinals, which finished with 443 yards of total offense — 155 more than Sturgis — added to their lead with touchdown runs in the third and fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
Tyler Cain posted 10 tackles, Matt Phillips finished with 8.5 and Tristen Stewart had 10 for Sturgis.
“We did a lot more with killing ourselves with penalties tonight than anything else,” Lamb said. “Silly stuff … we’re looking down the ball and we’re having a hard time lining up on the line of scrimmage. That stuff’s all on me; we’ve got to come back on Monday, put that in a drill and focus.”