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Published: Saturday, 10/1/2005

Passing game keys Sand Creek victory

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Matt Williams (20) of Sand Creek dives for a over thrown pass with Whiteford's Nate Seevers (32) not far behind during the first half at Sand Creek. Matt Williams (20) of Sand Creek dives for a over thrown pass with Whiteford's Nate Seevers (32) not far behind during the first half at Sand Creek.
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SAND CREEK, Mich. - It wasn't difficult to pinpoint the problems the Whiteford football team couldn't fix in its 34-6 loss at Sand Creek last night.

The Bobcat offense struggled to run the ball effectively, and they couldn't stop Sand Creek's big-play passing attack as the Aggies claimed a homecoming win that put them in the driver's seat to claim the Tri-County Conference crown.

Sand Creek remains the league's lone unbeaten at 3-0 and is 5-1 overall, while Whiteford fell to 4-2 overall and 3-1 in the conference.

Whiteford's George Flanner and Anthony LaRocca had combined for more than 1,100 yards in their first five games, but the pair managed just 62 against the Aggies as seven quarterback sacks pushed the Bobcats' team rushing total on the night to just 51 yards on 35 rushes.

"We had a couple plays early where we got first downs and moved the ball a little bit, but basically they stuffed our running game up," Whiteford coach Jack Luettke said. "We're not really a passing team, so when we have to resort to the pass when we get behind we're sort of hurting."

The Bobcats had to resort to the pass in the second half to try and catch a Sand Creek offense that rolled up 442 yards of total offense, including 199 in the air.

"You have to hand it to their quarterback [Matt Evans] and their receivers, particularly [Matt] Williams," Luettke said. "He made some outstanding catches. We had coaches upstairs say, '[The quarterback] out-threw [Williams]' and the kid would catch up to it."

Sand Creek scored first, capping a nine-play, 57-yard drive with a one-yard TD plunge by Cole Bice midway through the first quarter.

But on the Aggies' next possession Josh DiMasso intercepted a pass near midfield and returned it to Sand Creek's 15, and three plays later John Ritzenthaler caught a play-action pass from Lee Hughes to tie the game.

The game remained tied until the Aggies scored on a 12-play, 80-yard drive that ate up more than five minutes of the second quarter. Sand Creek used a pair of passes to key the drive: a 23-yard connection from Evans to Williams on third down, and a fourth-down pass from Evans to George Estes, to take the lead for good.

"In practice we do 20-25 plays at a time with no breaks and no huddles," Evans said. "We know if the other team can't stop those long drives, we're going to score."

In the second half Sand, Creek used big plays by Williams, who caught seven passes for 130 yards in the game, and Bice, who had a 51-yard TD run and finished with 146 rushing yards on 21 carries, to pull away.

"We've been more of a big-play team this season, and we were that at times in this game," Aggies coach Ernie Ayers said. "But we did put some better drives together tonight, and we controlled the clock a little more than we have been."

Sand Creek finished with good balance on offense as Evans completed 12-of-18 passes for 199 yards - including eight pass plays that gained more than 10 yards - while the ground game finished with 243 yards.

"We had to stay patient because we didn't hit the things we wanted to early in the game," Ayers said. "We seemed to be a few inches off here, a few inches off there. But these kids are patient and believe in themselves, so we kept following the game plan. And that paid off for us."

Meanwhile the combination of a tough Sand Creek rush defense, which allowed Whiteford just 31 rushing yards in the first half, and the mounting deficit, which forced the Bobcats to try more passes, helped the Aggie defense allow just eight first downs and less than two yards per play for the contest.

"I don't think we're that much worse a team than they are, but once things started to snowball they got out of hand," Luettke said.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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