Photos by Alexis Mercer
Story by Ken DeLaat
Tri County 22 Newaygo 14
The Vikings were looking to keep pace with the league leaders and inch a bit closer to a playoff invite. The Lions were hoping to build on last week’s win over Fremont that snapped their 3 game skid.
What ensued was a physical, hard fought contest between a pair of teams who battled to the final gun. The Vikings emerged victorious but not before they delivered several opportunities to their hosts in the 2nd half via turnovers.
The game was marked by a pair of injuries to Lions Mallaci Mayle and Aaron Garza who were taken off the field halfway through the second quarter. Players from both sides were respectfully somber for the injured Lions. The tone after the injuries was muted and concerned on the field as well as in the stands. No one ever wants to see injuries, let alone those of such severity.
The Lions struck first on their first possession marching down the field in chunks before Remy Wells made an acrobatic catch and scored on a pass from Grant Harkness. Josiah Long converted and it was 7-0 for the hosts.
The teams exchanged turnovers as Long recovered a Tyler Tompkins fumble deep in his own territory to halt a Viking drive but Landen Grabinski picked off a Harkness pass and on the next play Trent Behrenwald got the Vikes on the board with a 17 yard run. After Tompkins took it in for the 2 pointer it was 8-7 TC.
TC had another drive that saw them reach the 9 yard line first and goal. 3 runs later they were on the 4 yard line and tossed a short pass that was picked off by Long. The Lions could not move the ball and their punt gave the Vikings the ball on the Lion 30. This time the visitors would not be denied, keeping it on the ground with Nate Lovell, Behrenwald and Tompkins grinding it out capped by Tomkins sliding off left tackle for the score and Stuart Gould finding paydirt for another 2 pt conversion. The half ended with TC leading 16-7.
The Vikes began with possession and were moving the ball before Kody Bazzett who provided a strong defensive showing all night, jumped on a fumble and the lions had the ball near mid field. Dylan Bazzett pulled in a pair of Harkness passes to help move the Lions inside the red zone. On 4th and goal from the 5 Harkness and Bazzett connected again but this time it put points on the board and Long’s PAT boot made it 16-14.
Lovell and co. were pounding their way downfield in what looked to be another scoring drive late in the third but inside the 5 a bad snap gave the Lions another key turnover. Unfortunately for the Lions they quickly returned the favor via an interception and soon after Lovell took it home for a 22-14 TC lead after a failed conversion.
The next few minutes saw a sea of turnovers as the Vikings were stopped twice from putting the game on ice by fumbles and the Lions handing it back over via the air. When the clock ran out the Vikes were happy to escape with a win having dodged the effects of their turnover issues.
Tri County (3-1, 4-1) will continue their playoff quest with a home game against Fremont next week while Newaygo (1-3, 1-4) will try for win #2 when they visit Grant in the traditional rivalry game.