Welcome back to the NLC Northridge Raiders!   A new head coach with a whole new attitude within the program.  So much so, the Plymouth Rockies had to scratch and claw their way to a hard fought win over Northridge 21-14.


“You can tell Tom (Wogoman) has his kids believing in themselves and his system.  Man….what a good win for us.”, said Plymouth Head Coach John Barron.  “Once again it was a game of big plays, this week we made them, last week versus Warsaw, we didn’t.   That’s the difference.”


Both teams finished with identical total yardage of 225.  Specialty teams made the difference early in the game.   Justin Drudge returned the opening kick 94 yards for a Rockie score to set the tone.


“We have been practicing that play all week long.  We did well establishing the wall for Justin and the rest was all him.  Getting off to a quick start was one of the goals set for this game and we accomplished it”, said Barron.


Northridge shot themselves in the foot toward the end of  the first quarter when on a 3rd & 8 from the Plymouth 18 yard line, sophomore quarterback Jack Barron threw an interception to Raider Travis Schlabach but was nullified due to a roughing the passer call at the Plymouth 25.   To add salt to the wound, one of the players said something to the official and we giving an additional unsportsmanlike penalty which brought the football all the way to the Northridge 45 yard line.   14 plays and 77 yards later, Michael Hartman rushed into the endzone from the one yard line to give the Rockies a 14-0 lead.


“To that point, that series was crucial for us.  We had to capitalize on those free yards.  We did.  Dakota Brooke had a big catch in that series to move the chains for us to keep the drive going.”, said Barron.


It didn’t take long for Northridge to respond however.  On the next drive the Raiders capitalized on 2 plays that totaled 43 yards and got deep into Rockie Real Estate.  The drive finished with an 18 yard touchdown catch by Travis Schlabach, cutting the Rockie lead down to a touchdown.  All this happened in 1:09.


“Give credit to Northridge, they just responded.   We may have missed some assignments defensively but Schlabach is a really good player who used his athleticism to score.   But the big play in the 2nd quarter on Northridge’s final”, said Barron.


That Plymouth drive stalled at the 15 yard line, with Plymouth looking to punt.  The snap overshot Plymouth punter Jacob Lafree sending him to the one yard line.   Lafree was able to pick-up the football & pass forward but incomplete.  The incompletion gave Northridge the ball at the Plymouth 27 yard line with 2:30 left in the half.   6 plays-27 yards later Northridge tied the game at 14 heading into Halftime.


I wasn’t happy about the score at halftime, but the coaches and myself were upset with the effort we gave at the end of the 2nd quarter.  There were 3 fumbles caused and we came up with none of them.”, added Barron.   “We wanted to make some adjustments with Jack (Barron-QB) and their OLB.  We asked him to read it more selfishly.  If we were going to have success in the run game in the 2nd half, Jack was going to half to be more involved.”


Well it worked for Plymouth as the Rockie defense held Northridge on their first possession of the 3rd quarter.  The first possession for the home team started at their own 20 yard line.  A 24 yard pass completion to Justin Drudge from Barron got the Rockies to their own 41 yard line.  The next play was a quarterback keep for Barron who ran it all the way for a 58 yard touchdown to give the Rockies the lead for good, at 21-14.


“I glad my son listens to his old man every once in a while.  Great read by Jack, and he just let the athletic ability do the rest.  But after that touchdown, I thought our defense held strong from that point on.  We were not winning the field position battle which put a lot of pressure on our defense.   They answered the challenge.”, said Barron.


To add to the field advantage statistic, Northridge had starting field position in Rockie real estate in four of the five possessions in that second half.


Plymouth travels to Elkart Memorial next Friday night.  WTCA pre-game show at 6:30pm.