HOLT – The Holt Rams lost two non-league games to start the season by a combined score of 82-7.
Now they are a factor early in the CAAC Blue season.
Senior Josh Adado and junior Troy Jordan each ran for a pair of touchdowns as Holt moved to 2-0 in the Blue with a 28-21 win over Everett on Friday night.
The Rams (2-2, 2-0) had lost convincingly to Grandville and Hudsonville in the first two weeks, but wins over Eastern and Everett have Holt in a tie for first place with Grand Ledge after a pair of conference games.
“Last year we had the same thing. We played two teams from the west side that are very good and it gets us ready,” Holt coach Chad Fulk said. “Other teams in the area might play some weaker teams just to get those six wins, … but we challenge our kids and see what level we have to be at and we come back.”
Holt lost to Hudsonville and Rockford at the beginning of the 2015 season – with a 47-0 loss to Rockford in the second week, before ripping off five consecutive wins.
“We started the same way and we were in a spot where we were playing Grand Ledge for a league title,” Fulk said. “We expressed that to our kids again and they really buy into that.”
They started in a hole on Friday night too, allowing a kickoff return for a touchdown.
But Holt bounced back from that opening Everett TD, countering with a 4-yard touchdown run from Troy Jordan to pull within a point of the Vikings. The extra point was blocked.
The Rams took the lead on a 3-yard score by Adado in the second quarter, and Adado ran in the two-point conversion.
Adado scored from 20 yards out later in the quarter and ran in another two-pointer to once again give Holt the lead at 22-14 after Leslie Buck sandwiched the Adado TDs with an 8-yard run of his own to tie it at 14 for Everett.
Everett (1-3, 1-1) opened with a big play in the second half, as Schmidt found Isaac El-Amin for a 55-yard TD down the sideline to bring the Vikings within a point at 22-21.
But Holt went to work on the clock with the ground game, salting away the third quarter and getting good field position on a 27-yard punt return from Khari Gray as the period was nearly over.
Inside the Everett 30 to start the fourth, Jordan scored his second TD of the night on a 17-yard run to put Holt up 28-21.
“It’s been great,” Fulk said of the Jordan and Adado tandem in the backfield. “Adado’s a big fella running in there and Troy comes in behind him with a little speed and tonight his vision was amazing.”
Everett’s passing attack had two chances to tie the game in the final five minutes. The first Vikings drive eventually stalled at the Holt 20-yard line, with pass breakups on catchable Schmidt throws helping to stop the threat.
Everett was left with two timeouts and used them as Holt took possession and worked the clock, getting the ball back with 1:05 remaining at its own 40.
The Vikings once again drove deep into Ram territory, but Gray intercepted a Schmidt pass at the 5-yard line on fourth down to preserve the win.
“They were tough, but the defensive line made a stand and the corners were lock down. (Everett) couldn’t get through,” Jordan said. “Being 2-0, it feels great. It means we’ve got a shot to take the league title at the end of the year against Grand Ledge and hopefully get to states.”