Gull Lake won its first-ever Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference East Division game, defeating the host Battle Creek Central Bearcats, 32-0, on Friday night.
The Blue Devils – longtime members of the Wolverine Conference – looked sharp on offense and forced five Bearcat turnovers on their way to a shutout performance on the defensive side of the ball.
“Our defense set the tone tonight,” Gull Lake head coach Tim Hiller said. “We got off the ball well and won the line of scrimmage and that was really the difference. We talk about winning the turnover battle each week and two out of three weeks we did that so we have to keep that going.”
Gull Lake quarterback Ryan Mutchler looked just fine after missing last week’s contest with an injury to his throwing shoulder. The junior Blue Devil scored the game’s first two touchdowns and finished with 50 yards rushing and 179 yards passing.
“(Mutchler) banged his shoulder up and probably could have gone last week, but it’s not worth it to jeopardize his season,” Hiller said. “He brings the element of being able to run and pass and that really helped us tonight.”
It was a frustrating loss for the Bearcats (0-3, 0-1 SMAC East) who have only scored six points in their first three games.
Mutchler’s first score came on a 16-yard quarterback read on the Blue Devil’s first possession.
Early in the game Gull Lake’s Jacob Stafford made his presence felt on the defensive side of the ball. The Blue Devil senior linebacker forced a 4th-and-long with a sack on the Bearcats’ first possession and recovered a fumble on their next.
Midway through the third quarter Mutchler hit Zac Caldwell on 3rd-and-four for a crucial 10-yard pickup, setting up Mutchler for his second touchdown run of the game from two yards out to make it 12-0.
Caldwell led Gull Lake (1-2) with 64 yards receiving on five receptions.
On Battle Creek Central’s ensuing possession quarterback Tre’Vahn Hale hit Joe Bowser for a 20-yard gain to the Blue Devil 40 yard line. Later on in the same drive Hale converted on fourth down on a quarterback draw and it looked like the Bearcats were on their way to a score as they were set up inside the 20.
But, Gull Lake came up with a big defensive stop when Nick Miller picked off a pass in the end zone on third down.
Things snowballed from there for the Bearcats.
Gull Lake’s Connor Owen made an acrobatic catch down the sideline for a 37-yard gain on the last play of the third quarter and Alex Meade’s 25-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth to make it 20-0.
Four minutes later Pat Gaudard punched in a touchdown run from one yard out and later in the fourth Gull Lake scored its final touchdown when Tyler Kellam picked off a pass and ran it in for a touchdown, making the score 32-0.