CHESTERTON, Ind. – Mother Nature proved to be the bigger foe in Michigan City’s Duneland Conference opener at Chesterton Friday.
Lightning struck and halted play with 7:38 remaining in the second quarter as the Wolves defense had the Trojans facing a third and 11 at the Chesterton 33 yard line and trailing the Trojans 10-7.
Coming off the emotional overtime loss to Homewood-Flossmoor a week ago, the Wolves got off to a sluggish start beginning with a fumbled exchange from quarterback Bryce Hayman to Michael Bradford on the first play of the game from the City 20 yard line. However, the Wolves defense held and the Trojans had to settle for a 43-yard field goal by Chris VanEekeren.
City was able to force a turnover of their own moments later when Antonio Conley recovered a fumble at the Trojan 35. Hayman connected to Demetrius Garrett on a 19-yard pass, and on the following play, Hayman found Garrett again in the left corner of the end zone for a 16-yard scoring pass to put City up 7-3 at the 6:55 mark.
Chesterton started the ensuing drive from its own 21. A key 37-yard pass play from Jacob Coslet to Ben Slatcoff on third down was the key play that moved the ball to the City 34. Three plays later, again on third down, the drive was extended on a pass interference penalty call on Kejuan Rufus that eventually gave the Trojans first and goal from the 10-yard line.
Two plays later, Ryan Klespies scored the go-ahead touchdown on a five-yard run for the 10-7 lead at 2:04.
City appeared ready to regain the lead on a drive that began at the Trojan 42 early in the second quarter. But a costly turnover, when Detrick Merriweather fumbled at the Trojan 14, ended the threat.
Chesterton took over from that point until the stoppage of play.
Overnight defensive adjustments were a huge factor for Michigan City as suspended play resumed Saturday afternoon following Friday night’s stoppage of the Duneland Conference opener against Chesterton due to lightning.
It only took the Wolves 26 seconds to erase the 10-7 deficit and seize control leading to a 28-10 victory over the Trojans. The Class 5A No. 5 ranked Wolves improved to 2-1 (1-0 DAC) while Chesterton fell to 1-2 (0-1 DAC).
“The defense played outstanding, “ City coach Phil Mason said. “Considering the factors that go into when (suspended play) happens you gotta be happy, but I think we left some points on the field and we have to address that.”
Resuming Saturday with Chesterton facing a third down and 11 at the Trojan 38, Jacob Coslet’s attempted pass to Ben Slatcoff was incomplete. A shanked punt on fourth down gave the Wolves starting field position at the Trojan 48.
Immediately the City offense went on the attack with Bryce Hayman’s 12-yard quarterback keeper followed by Hayman throwing a 36-yard touchdown pass to Zenon Wilhelm at the 6:56 mark. The Wolves took the 14-10 lead into halftime.
“It was huge, we needed momentum,” Hayman said.
Both teams opened the second half with defensive stops. Chesterton’s best starting field position was at the City 46 yard line. The only play the Trojans would run in Wolves territory resulted in a seven-yard sack of Coslet by Wolves defensive end Chase Triplett followed by a five-yard sack by Justin Wozniak.
“Coming into today we knew that we had to bring the heat,” Triplett said. “We got a big game next week at home against Valpo and we have to bring it. We can’t come out like we did (Friday).”
City was finally able to get its offense going again beginning an 80-yard scoring drive with 3:23 left in the third quarter. After a false start penalty, Michael Bradford broke loose for the longest play from scrimmage, a 43 yard run with 15 more yards tacked on for a face mask penalty. Hayman finished the seven-play drive with a nifty 4-yard run.
The Wolves opened the fourth quarter with a six play 47-yard drive finishing with an 11 yard TD pass from Hayman to Demetrius Garrett for the final tally.
Wolves safety Marquan Hurt credited defensive coach Roydon Richards for the overnight defensive adjustments.
“We had a few tweaks in the defense and (coach Richards) fixed that,” Hurt said.. “Coach was probably up all night watching film and fixing our mistakes.”
Missing from the game was key playmaker Kameron Muhammad who was suspended for violation of team rules.