By Matt Nestor
For two straight years, Harlem was able to top Hononegah with relative ease on their way to second-place finishes in the NIC-10.
This year, eyeing a final-week showdown with Boylan, the Indians were able to do what they couldn’t in the past.
The Indians (5-0) stymied the Huskies’ offense at every turn, causing several key turnovers, avoiding the big play and making a key goal-line stand late in the second quarter, topping Harlem (3-2) by a score of 12-0 in a big conference showdown.
“We knew [Brandon] Rogers was banged up, so we wanted to stick it to him and make him feel it a little bit,” Hononegah linebacker Skylar Purifoy said. “We wanted to contain them and keep them under 20 points. We didn’t think we would get a shut out, and that is awesome.”
Harlem’s defense held strong, too, for much of the night. The score was tied at 0 at the half with Hononegah never threatening points.
But the Huskies could not get their offense untracked, with penalties wiping out big plays and turnovers ending potentially great drives.
“I don’t think we could have asked much more from our defense, they played at a pretty high level,” Harlem coach Jim Morrow said. “Offensively, we just never seemed to get it going, and it wasn’t hitting on all cylinders.”
Hononegah came out quickly in the third quarter, scoring a touchdown on a 1-yard run by senior quarterback Chase Robinson. Senior Bryan Rothmaler then followed up a 47-yard run, in which tripping over his own man was the only thing keeping him from the end zone, with a 3-yard plunge to put the game away.
“Everyone had their blocks, and I just ran downfield,” Rothmaler said. “I ended up running into my own player, but I don’t care, because on the next play, I just stuck it in.”
For the Indians, it was a statement victory with an eye toward Boylan to end the season. But with a good, experienced Guilford team on deck, the Indians know they need to keep up their intensity to make their game with the Titans worthwhile.
“We have a lot of games left, and we have to keep this up,” Purifoy said. “Our defense was phenomenal tonight, and we just need to carry this over from week to week.”
In other NIC-10 action:
→ East (1-4) finished as strong as they started, getting 134 yards passing and 119 yards rushing from Andrew Lantz on their way to a 47-28 victory over Belvidere North. Seth Swinehart also chipped in 136 rushing yards for the E-Rabs in the win. The Blue Thunder (1-4) did get another 200 rushing yards from conference leader Austin Smaha, but it wasn’t enough to top East.
→ The Freeport Pretzels (3-2) got back on the right side of .500, with DeJuan Curry icing the game with an interception of Troy Vandenbroek of Belvidere (1-4) to hang on for a 34-28 victory.
→ Guilford (4-1) continued to roll as they prepare to host first-place Guilford, holding Auburn (0-5) scoreless in a 49-0 victory.
→ Chris Miller ran for a 17-yard touchdown and returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown to help Boylan (5-0) top Jefferson (2-3) 47-8. Joe Ward scored from a yard out for the J-Hawks’ only score.
From the Sept. 29-Oct. 5, 2010 issue