STURGIS — A promising opening drive for the Sturgis High School football team went up in smoke, which gave visiting Portage Central early momentum that continued to build on its way to a 55-0 victory over the Trojans Thursday.
It wasn’t the season opener Sturgis head coach Jimmy Lamb envisioned, but he was quick to point out to his team that’s all it was — the opener.
“It’s not the end of the season,” he said. “We still have time to improve.”
Time ran out on the Trojans in a hurry Thursday as the Mustangs scored on every drive and ate up what was already a running clock in the second half. But the damage was done much earlier.
Portage Central senior running backs Jacob Allan and Jerrod Davis produced 369 yards and six touchdowns, with Allan’s 205 yards and three scores produced in the first 24 minutes. Allan averaged 22.8 yards per carry, including a 91-yard dart down the right sideline that gave the Mustangs a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Sturgis had just marched down to the Mustangs’ 8-yard line before senior quarterback Chance Stewart was intercepted in the end zone — a play Portage Central defensive back Mickey Losey returned 107 yards for a touchdown, but an illegal block in the back negated the points. Allan made up for it moments later.
The Mustangs piled on five touchdowns in the second quarter for a 41-0 halftime advantage. And their first possession coming out of the locker room yielded a 31-yard touchdown scamper by Davis, who finished with 164 yards and three scores on 13 carries. Portage Central outgained Sturgis 569-121 for the game and bothered Stewart enough to pick off three passes and limit the Western Michigan University commit to just 9-of-18 passing and 84 yards.
“We didn’t hurt ourselves and we didn’t turn the ball over,” Portage Central coach Mick Enders said. “We were pretty efficient. Mickey Losey (two interceptions) was really big tonight. He played the ball very, very well. He’s just a smart football player who made a lot of great plays tonight.”
An experienced offensive line paved the way for a run-at-will effort for the Mustangs. Allan basically said all he had to do was show up.
“When you have holes you can drive buses through, it’s not hard,” Allan said. “Anybody can do that. I had great blocking up front.”
Sturgis senior running back Matt Phillips scraped out 48 yards on seven carries for an offense that was without its top wide receiver, Kalvyn Bowdish, a senior who was suspended for the first game due to a violation of team rules. Junior Jack Caywood caught three passes for 49 yards to lead the Trojans, and classmate Jack Scheske added two catches for 18 yards.
Lamb didn’t even need to review the game film to pinpoint the problem areas on both sides of the ball for his team out of the gate.
“A lot of it was technique,” he said. “It was kids not doing what they’re coached to do. I saw it and was keying in on plays. I know from their body language they weren’t reading their keys. It’s the little things in this game that [make the] change. Just missed assignments.”