DUNLAP – Momentum was the difference in an NLC slugfest with Plymouth fumbling away the lead and a win at Concord falling 19-18.
“I’m proud of our kids you can’t fault anybody who played in the game tonight, I think they gave tremendous effort,” said Plymouth head coach John Barron. “I told them on the bus I was sorry. I was sorry that we lost the game. We played well enough to win and it’s the dreaded turnover that gets you.”
The game couldn’t have started much worse for the Rockies. On the first play a poor pitch on the option had Benji Nixon covering a loose ball right in front of the goal line. The second play resulted in a safety and the ensuing free kick went out of bounds and gave the Minutemen the ball back at the Plymouth 45.
Concord punched in a score on their first offensive drive and then added a 50 yard field goal by Josh Gorball to go up 12-0 almost before all the equipment was off the bus. It was after that everything changed.
“We made some mistakes and it was about the worst start you could have,” said Barron, “But we hung in there and we battled. That’s one of the characteristics of this team that I really love – they don’t quit. To come out and play as poorly as we did that first series on offense and defense – our heads were spinning – I knew if we could get some first downs we’d be okay because I love our offensive line.”
Cole Filson came on and the Rockies and they switched out the offense from the “flex” to a “power I” formation with Nixon at the tailback spot. From there on Plymouth took control of the game running downhill all night with Nixon carrying the load. Benji ended the drive with a touchdown run and ended the night with 36 carries and 114 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“For Benji to run the ball the way he did is really remarkable,” said Barron. “It shows you the type of player he is. He didn’t put the ball on the ground once tonight. He took a lot of hits tonight and he’s got the ability to find seams, he is a typical Plymouth running back. To go from being a wing to running in the I is totally different. It takes courage to run into that mosh of bodies the way he did and I was proud of him tonight.”
“I thought that Cole (Filson) played a tremendous game,” said Barron. “He came in and managed the game very well, made some big plays took some big hits and got up every time – showed a lot of composure – hopefully he can build on that.”
With Colten Shuler, Sean Masson and Gabe Bastardo on the sideline on the sideline with injuries the Rockies had several players that had to respond to the next man up philosophy. On defense it was Sam Stayton and Graham Chapman stepping up at the ends and Nate Nixon making his first start ever at safety.
“We didn’t have four starters on defense,” said Barron. “Hats off to the kids who played all night long. Sam Stayton never came off the field on defense, we got great minutes out of Graham Chapman, (Conner) Mathews battled all night long.
Plymouth moves to 4-3 on the year with another tough NLC road contest at Goshen next week.
Score by Quarters
Plymouth 0 15 3 – 18
Concord 12 0 7 – 19
C – Safety
C – TD Dominick Debroka 15 yard run (Josh Gorball kick)
C – FG Josh Gorball 48 yards
P – TD Benji Nixon 4 yard run (Jeremy Drudge kick)
P – TD Benji Nixon 1 yard run (Cole Filson run for two point conversion)
P – FG Jeremy Drudge 42 yards
C – TD Jack Lietzan 13 yard run (Josh Gorball kick).
Rushing – (Plymouth 66-230) B. Nixon 36-114 2TD, McMillen 11-39, Filson 6-35, Koss 4-18, Winkle 1-12, Johnson 3- -10. (Concord 28-202) DeBroka 16-109 TD, Lietzen 8-40 TD, Mitchell 2-5, Boone 2-1.
Receiving – Pavey 2-25. Mitchell 1-36.
Tackles –Drudge 6.