Wolverines can't tame the Lions passing game, fall to 0-3
In a matchup where the Wolverines outgained their opponent in first downs 17-13, net yards rushing 194-76, and having 16 more offensive plays, you would think the scoreboard would read a little different than 30-13. But such was the case on Friday night as the Wolverines lost another tough battle to long-time foe New Brighton Lions 30-13 in the first MAC game of the year.
Both teams came into Friday night with no wins and an 0-2 record, with only one game by the Lions being a conference game, so both teams knew that the winner, even being 1-2, would have a leg up on the rest of competition picking up their first conference win.
It's tough to say that the first conference game for the Wolverines could determine certain playoff implications, but looking at the schedule, this game could have been a team's motivation throughout the next few weeks. The Lions took that knowledge and laid it all out on the field, especially through the air, spoiling the Wolverines chances of a win.
The first quarter saw the Wolverines get the ball first, where they had a 12 play 41 yard drive that unfortunately was cut short on third down at the NB 40 yard line. After the EC punt, the Lions took over at their own 19 yard line where they didn't waste any time - 2 plays and 81 yards later, the Lions were up 6-0 after an 81 yard TD reception by Caleb Shuler from QB Jackson Hall. The Lions attempted all 2-point conversions on the night, with the first one being successful by Jacob Francona who kept the direct snap into the endzone, giving the Lions an early 8-0 lead at 5:52 Q1.
Teams traded off drives in the first quarter as the next score didn't come till the second quarter, where a good 40 yard drive by the Wolverines was capped off by a 4th down 2 yard TD run by Rick Pitrelli. The 2-point conversion for the Wolverines was unsuccessful as the Wolverines trailed 8-6 with 10:57 left in Q2.
Teams once again traded off 2 drives a piece in the second quarter, until the Lions broke through once again on a 3 play, 18 yard drive as Alex Stock ran in a 7 yard TD. 2-point conversion was failed as the Lions took a 14-6 lead right before halftime. The Wolverines did have an attempt to score right before halftime as they drove 56 yards on 14 plays, which included a big 34 yard reception by RB Rick Pitrelli, but the Wolverines could not punch the ball in on four downs as they turned the ball over on downs. The Lions, with the lead, took the knee as they headed to the locker up 14-6 at halftime.
For the third straight week, the Wolverines although down at half, were not necessarily out of contention...all they needed was a quick strike in the second half. Unfortunately, the Lions were to receive the ball first...and they took advantage of such.
The Lions capped off two big drives early in the second half, one coming at 11:48 Q3 after the Lions standout wide receiver Caleb Shuler caught a 65 yard TD pass from Hall as well as caught the 2 point conversion from Hall, and the second score coming at 6:50 Q3 where Hall passed once again to Shuler for a 15 yard TD and Shuler caught the 2 point conversion again. Within 6 minutes of coming out of the locker, the Wolverines saw themselves down 30-6 with little hope of coming back.
The lone bright side of the second half for the Wolverines came at the 21 second mark in Q3 where RB Donavin Chambers took a hand-off and ran 24 yards into the endzone for the TD. Kicker Colin Smith made the PAT, making the score 30-13 New Brighton.
The fourth quarter came and went as the quarter only saw 2 drives total, starting with New Brighton taking the ball at the 8 minute mark and running the clock down to 2 minutes left. The Lions moved 59 yards on 20 plays, but turned the ball over on downs. The second drive was in the hands of the Wolverines, but they were in no hurry to at least attempt to put up more points, ending the game with a short 3 play 4 yard drive.
The Wolverines finished the game with 293 total yards on offense compared to the Lions 317, but they could never regroup or come back from the quick 14 points in the second half by the Lions. The Wolverines now fall to 0-3 (0-1) on the season while the Lions pick up their first win, improving to 1-2 (1-1) on the season.
Next week for the Wolverines is another tough test in the Lancers of Neshannock who came off of a huge victory over hopeful Mohawk. Standings in the MAC as well as game and season stats for the Wolverines are below. You can catch the replay of the game against the New Brighton Lions on our W-Zone page, or on our YouTube page, as well as below.