Big gains were hard to come by in a slugfest between Coldwater and host Pennfield on Friday.
But the game’s longest play from scrimmage also ended up being the one that iced the victory for the Cardinals, as Sam DeMeester’s 31-yard touchdown run with 6:56 remaining sealed a 17-6 victory for Coldwater in this Interstate Eight Conference battle.
“We were waiting for our team to respond,” said Coldwater head coach Jeff Schorfhaar. “When they got it to 10-6, that’s crunch time. That’s what that last drive was all about. We have to do something, and they stepped up. If we don’t, who knows what is going to happen.”
DeMeester finished with 103 yards on 22 carries for Coldwater (2-1, 1-1 Interstate Eight). He credited the Cardinals’ defense for holding Pennfield (2-1, 1-1 Interstate Eight) to just one touchdown after the Panthers averaged 41 points through the first two weeks of the season.
“Defense was playing good all night,” DeMeester said. “We were hitting hard and playing good at the line of scrimmage. Offensively we have a lot of work to do, especially holding on to the ball.”
Trailing 10-0 after three quarters, Pennfield partially blocked a punt and recovered the ball deep in Coldwater territory. Then facing a fourth-and-16 from the 20-yard-line, Panthers’ quarterback Kollin Kemerling found running back Sam Nichols in the corner of the endzone to make it 10-6.
“We talked about this being a measuring stick-type of game and see where we’re at against the defending league champion, and I was really proud of our defense,” said Pennfield coach Mike McGuire. “I thought those kids really battled. We gave up a little on that first possession, but really battled and our kids really came out and hit.”
On the game’s first offensive series, Coldwater ran 14 plays spanning nearly eight minutes. The drive was capped off by a 4-yard touchdown run by running back Joey Severn.
Coldwater made it 10-0 with 4:05 remaining in the first half when Cameron Barnes connected on a 34-yard field goal.
Severn led the Cardinals’ rushing attack with 15 carries for 128 yards. Defensively for Coldwater, Jordan Weaver had eight tackles; Nathan Spray had six tackles; Brady Beckhusen had an interception and DeMeester had four tackles including a sack and Colin Klein had three tackles including a sack.
Up next for Coldwater is a trip to face Parma Western (1-2, 1-1 Interstate Eight).
“I knew (Pennfield) would be much improved and their team speed is pretty good, they’ve got some fast kids – and they’re still pretty young and are playing a lot of juniors right now,” Schorfhaar said. “I was just really proud of the defense. They were scoring 40 points a game, and to hold them to six – I was really happy in that aspect.”
Pennfield was led offensively by Grant Petersen with eight carries for 43 yards. Defensively, Ashton Leenhouts had a game-high 15 tackles including two sacks, while Jonah Kurtz and Petersen had seven tackles apiece.
The Panthers next visit Marshall (1-2, 1-1 Interstate Eight) on Sept. 16.
“We’re going to learn from this loss,” McGuire said. “I was really happy to see our toughness on both sides of the ball. That’s going to be something we’re going to build on moving forward.”
Nick Buckley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 269-966-0652. Follow him on Twitter:@NickJBuckley