Lions shut out Trojans, 41-0
BREMEN — Triton Head Coach Rodney Younis knew his team was going to have to put up some points to contend with host Bremen.
Instead the Lions defensive unit created six turnovers while pitching a shutout against the visiting Trojans, and the result was a lopsided 41-0 Northern State Conference win at home Friday at Don Bunge Field.
All total, Triton finished with 143 total offensive yards with four fumbles for two turnovers, and the Bremen secondary pilfered four picks from Trojans junior back-up quarterback Bryson Mosier in his third game since taking over at QB for injured first-stringer Zak Shively.
“We’ve got to finish things; we can’t turn the ball over. Those were two things that we struggled with tonight,” said Younis.
“We were able to move the ball, we just weren’t able to finish things. If we could have gotten a score, it might have been different.”
Friday night’s NSC match-up was selected as the second game of the Indianapolis Colts’ Friday Night Football Tour, and with all the hubbub surrounding the game, the Lions offense got off to a relatively slow start.
Bremen managed 206 of its 390 total offensive yards but only two scores before the break, the first on a 39-yard catch and carry from senior quarterback Nate Leeper to senior running back Braxston Miller at the 6:40 mark of the first frame, and the second a 10-yard TD strike from Leeper to Ethan Pike with only 58 seconds remaining in the first half that put the home team up 14-0 with a pair of point-after kicks from Lucas Schlarb.
Part of the Lions’ sluggish start was due to 64 yards worth of penalties on five whistles in the first half.
“There was a lot going on in the first half, but we can’t use that as an excuse,” said Bremen Coach Bob Holmes, who moved to 13-4 in his second year at the helm for the Lions. “We’ve got to come out and be ready to play football right from the get-go. The third quarter we came out and did what we needed to do. These kids are getting better each and every week. They still make mistakes. We didn’t play our best football here tonight, but we came out of here with a ‘W’, and we have to look forward to next week.
“We’re not going to use all the stuff that was going on as an excuse. We’re awfully appreciative for the Indianapolis Colts for choosing us. It was a great experience for us, and I know our fans and our community enjoyed it.”
If they were distracted in the first half, Bremen hit the field focused after the intermission, scoring on the opening drive less than two minutes into the third quarter as sophomore back Eric Knepper darted in from three yards out to cap off a quick five-play, 51-yard drive at the 10:06 stop. Just three seconds elapsed on the game clock between a pair of TDs by senior running back/ linebacker Tyler Johnson as he ran one in from five yards out at the 4:45 mark of the quarter, then pulled down a pick for a 25-yard interception return and score with 4:28 remaining in the frame.
Knepper scored his second touchdown of the night on a 31-yard breakaway run with 8:41 remaining in the game to bring the score to its final margin with Schlarb’s fifth extra-point kick of the night before the Lions began marching out the reserves.
“I think the (Johnson) interception changed the momentum for the game without a doubt,” said Holmes. “Our guys are disciplined each week and they’re focused on what they need to do. Our defense knew they were going to throw that pass somewhere in the game, and we jumped the route and made a great play. Tyler Johnson does a great job for us and made a great play, and that without a doubt set the tone for us for the rest of the game.”
“Bremen’s a solid team,” said Younis. “You can’t hold them down, and we told them this third quarter is going to be a huge quarter because they’re going to be fired up. They kicked it to another level, and our kids have to learn to match that.”
The Lions were led as usual by Miller, who missed the century mark by nine yards with 91 rushing yards on 16 carries and recorded one catch for 39 yards and a score. Leeper gained 64 yards on just five carries to complement a 7-for-15, 142-yard passing performance, and the young Knepper finished with 79 yards on nine carries and two touchdowns in a break-out performance.
“Knepper has done a great job for us the last two years, and he’s kind of been in the shadow of Braxston,” said Holmes. “He does a good job as he showed tonight. I think this was his break-out night. We have two guys in the backfield they have to deal with, and he’s definitely one of them.”
Triton was led by sophomore fullback Cody Shively’s 65 yards on 15 rushes and Marc Lindsey’s 5 catches for 44 yards.
“Effort-wise, I was proud of our kids. We came out that first half and we played hard,” Younis said.
“We were a little bit more aggressive tonight than what we normally are. We tried a couple of fakes and an onside kick, and it didn’t work. It worked one time, but that’s it. It didn’t help our defense; it put them in bad spots. But effort-wise, I thought we battled. I thought our young kids took a step in the right direction tonight.”
Bremen remains unbeaten at 4-0 with a 2-0 NSC start and will put those perfect records on the line as it travels to Culver next Friday. Triton slips to 0-4 with an 0-2 conference mark and will return home to search for its first win against John Glenn.
• BREMEN 41, TRITON 0
Score by quarter
Triton: 0 0 0 0 — 0
Bremen: 7 7 20 7 — 41
Bremen — Nate Leeper 39-yd pass to Braxston Miller (Lucas Schlarb kick), 6:40
Bremen — Leeper 10-yd pass to Ethan Pike (Schlarb kick), 0:58
Bremen — Eric Knepper 3-yd run (kick fail), 10:06
Bremen — Tyler Johnson 5-yd run (Schlarb kick), 4:45
Bremen — Johnson 25-yd int return (Schlarb kick), 4:28
Bremen — Knepper 31-yd run, 8:41 (Schlarb kick), 8:41
Rushing: 29-77; Cody Shively 15-65, Cole Creighbaum 2-14
Passing: Bryson Mosier 14-22-4 for 63 yds
Receiving: Marc Lindsey 5-44, Tanner Shepherd 2-13
First downs: 8
Penalties-yds lost: 5-57
Rushing: 35-249; Miller 16-91, Knepper 9-79, Leeper 5-64
Passing: Leeper 7-15-0 for 142 yds, 2 TDs
Receiving: Knepper 3-32, Miller 1-39,
First downs: 17
Penalties-yds lost: 7-89
Records: Triton 0-4 (0-2 NSC), Bremen 4-0 (2-0 NSC)