Portage Northern spoiled Battle Creek Central’s homecoming Friday night as the Huskies picked up a 35-21 victory, putting them one win away from a playoff berth. PN dominated in the trenches for more than 400 rushing yards, while also keeping the Bearcats to fewer than 100 on the ground.
“Our kids up front handled the run game very, very well,” said Husky head coach Pete Schermerhorn. “We expect to be able to do that, we certainly did it tonight.”
“We got handled up front up tonight and we need to fix that,” concurred Bearcat coach Lorin Granger.
Despite that lopsided tally and the overall yardage disparity of 450-233, the game stayed tight throughout. The Huskies took a 14-0 lead into halftime, forcing two turnovers on downs and three punts defensively. Both Portage Northern scores came on lengthy runs by quarterback Tyler Helgeson, one from 57 yards and the other from 46.
After forcing a punt to start the third quarter, Battle Creek Central got on the board with a 48-yard touchdown pass from Jermaine Morris to Theo Shepherd. The Huskies answered with their most sustained drive of the night to that point, capped off with a nine-yard Tyler Amos rushing score.
A big 54-yard gain by BCC running back Tyshaan Williams put the score at 21-14 as the third quarter closed. They would trade punts, with Bearcat punter John Love pinning Portage Northern back against their own goalline. But the Huskies would traverse the length of the field over a seven-play scoring drive.
“I can’t remember many 99-yard drives in my coaching career, that was certainly a fun one,” noted Schermerhorn, in his 25th year at the helm of the Huskies.
60 of those 99 yards came on one big run by Kareem Williams. A two-yard Amos rush capped off the drive for a 28-14 Portage Northern lead with 5:19 remaining.
Battle Creek Central pushed right back, starting their next drive in the red zone via a huge Joshua Mann kickoff return. On a fourth-and-goal from the 10, Morris hooked up with Shepherd again for a Bearcat touchdown with 3:55 to go and two timeouts to use.
The Huskies were in danger of ceding possession, quickly forced into a third-and-nine. But they moved the chains on their lone pass completion of the night, a 16-yard toss to Torian Jackson. Three plays later, Amos delivered the knockout blow on a 33-yard touchdown rush, putting him over 1000 yards on the season.
Portage Northern improves to 5-2 overall and can clinch a playoff spot at home next week against winless Gull Lake (0-7). Their regular season finale is at St. Joseph (5-2) for top billing in the SMAC West.
“There are certainly things that happened tonight that we need to do to get better,” said Schermerhorn. “The challenge is to play the best Portage Northern football we can play, regardless of who we’re playing.”
Battle Creek Central drops to 4-3 and will need to win at Niles (3-4) next week and beat Loy Norrix (1-6) at home in week nine to guarantee a playoff berth.
PN: 57-yard Tyler Helgeson rush, Drew Hovestadt PAT (3:47)
PN: 46-yard Tyler Helgeson rush, Hovestadt PAT (2:26)
BCC: 48-yard Theo Shepherd pass from Jermaine Morris, Tyshaan Willians two-point rush (6:08)
PN: 9-yard Tyler Amos rush, Hovestadt PAT (1:18)
BCC: 54-yard Tyshaan Williams rush, PAT missed (0:01)
PN: 2-yard Tyler Amos rush, Hovestadt PAT (5:19)
BCC: 10-yard Theo Shepherd pass from Jermaine Morris, Osvaldo Flores-Moreno PAT (3:55)
PN: 33-yard Tyler Amos rush, Hovestadt PAT (1:19)
Total Offense: Portage Northern 450, Battle Creek Central 233
Turnovers: Portage Northern 0, Battle Creek Central 0
Portage Northern rushing: Tyler Amos 182, 2 TD; Tyler Helgeson 135, 2 TD; Kareem Williams 78, Anthony Tyus 31, Derrick Henderson 8
Battle Creek Central rushing: Tyshaan Williams 98, 1 TD; Joshua Mann 7, Eric Hopkins 2, Jaquan West -1, Jermaine Morris -15
Portage Northern passing: Tyler Helgeson 1-4, 16 yds
Battle Creek Central passing: Jermaine Morris 8-24, 142 yds, 2 TD
Portage Northern receiving: Torian Jackson 1-16
Battle Creek Central receiving: Theo Shepherd 4-81, 2 TD; Dre’Aun Ellis 1-28, Tyshaan Williams 1-17, Joshua Mann 2-15
Records: Portage Northern 5-2, Battle Creek Central 4-3