Lions spoil Knox homecoming
KNOX — Class 2A No. 6 Bremen is a challenge for a healthy lineup.
When your starting quarterback has to sit the game out and one of your fullbacks is also out with an injury, the result can be ugly.
The Lions put on a clinic on both sides of the ball at Knox, scoring on all but their first and last possession before marching out the reserves and holding the Redskins to just three first downs in a 53-0 homecoming spoiler at Knox Friday.
“Our kids have been working each and every week to get a little bit better and to play at this level,” said Bremen head coach Bob Holmes. “We know we’re going to need to play at this level each and every week going forward if we expect to be successful. This week they worked very, very hard, and I think they reaped some rewards for their hard work.”
“It’s one of those things where we have to just come out and play better and execute,” said Knox coach Terry Chestovich. “We had some things that I thought were going to be successful tonight, and we had some things, we’d just shoot ourselves in the foot. They’re a good program, Bob does a great job with those kids. They want to win; our kids want to do the same thing, it’s just right now we’re not getting it done.”
All total, the Lions racked up 436 total offensive yards while holding Knox to just 101.
Bremen’s offense showcased its versatility as it balanced 285 yards rushing with 151 passing yards. The Lions split their run game between three backs as Braxston Miller ground up 97 yards on 10 carries with a touchdown, Reid Zellmer tallied another 90 yards in 14 rushes with a touchdown, and Eric Knepper ran for 86 yards on 11 carries with three touchdowns. Quarterback Nate Leeper connected with receivers at a 9-for-15 clip with two touchdowns, including a 24-yarder to Sean Knepper for Bremen’s first strike of the night at the 7:44 mark of the first quarter and another to Mitch Huppert from 7 yards out with 34 seconds left in the first half.
“Our versatility is one of the keys to our offense,” said Holmes. “We really showed our ability to run and throw the ball, and it makes us not one-dimensional and that causes some problems for different teams to have to scheme against us because we’re not just a running or a throwing team.”
Knox’s offense was stymied not only by a hard-hitting Bremen defense, but with first string QB Nevin Miller out for the season with a shoulder injury during last week’s game at Culver and fullback Jordan Beem also sitting out Friday’s game with an injured knee, the Redskins had trouble executing, coughing up three of six fumbles — the majority of them on the quarterback exchange — and throwing away a pair of interceptions, including a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown by Bremen’s Mitch Andrews for the Lions’ second score of the night at the 6:28 mark of the first frame.
Knox recorded only 88 rushing yards, while sophomore signal caller James Decker completed his passes at a 4-for-10 rate for 13 yards.
“With Nevin, that kind of puts a whole new dynamic to our offense and some of the things that we’re able to do, but those kids that are the backups, they have to be ready to play. That’s our job as coaches and my job as a coach to get those kids able to function and go out there and execute what we do,” said Chestovich.
“James kind of got thrown into the fire last week because of Nevin getting hurt, but I thought he did some nice things tonight. We’ve just got to continue to get better.”
One bright spot for the Redskins came from junior three-way player Garrett Majchrzak, who recorded four tackles and a pair of blocked PATs in the loss.
“He can bring some things. He’s very athletic and can do some things for us,” Chestovich said. “Coming off the edge, watching film and things, we felt like we could get a couple blocked PATs and some field goals if they were going to attempt those. He did a nice job for us there.”
After holding Knox to three and out on the game’s opening possession, Bremen coughed up a fumble at the Knox 20-yard line at the 9:11 stop of the first quarter. But the Lions defense held Knox to three and out once again, and Bremen’s offense quickly took control with a one-play quick strike from Leeper to Sean Knepper to put Bremen on the board. From then on, the Lions scored on every possession except their last three as the team started marching out its reserves early in the fourth quarter.
“I think that’s our first turnover in two weeks. Those things are going to happen; the conditions are tough, but the key is not dwelling on those turnovers and what you do after, how you respond,” said Holmes. “I thought we responded very well. We didn’t get down, we looked forward and made sure we secured the football, and I think the stats speak for themselves.”
Knox slides to 2-5 and 1-4 in the Northern State Conference with Friday’s loss, while Bremen remains perfect at 7-0 with a 5-0 NSC mark. Knox plays host to Triton next week, while the Lions travel to Jimtown in a battle of NSC unbeatens.
“What a big game next week. It’s going to be quite a war at Jimtown next week,” Holmes said. “The Jimmies are a tremendous team with a great tradition, and we’re going to have to go over there and play a very flawless and versatile game if we expect to beat them.”
• BREMEN 53,
Bremen: 20 20 13 0 — 53
Knox: 0 0 0 0 — 0
Bremen — Sean Knepper 24-yd pass from Nate Leeper (Kick blocked), 7:44
Bremen — Mitch Andrews 27-yd interception return (Leeper rush), 6:28
Bremen — Braxston Miller 25-yd run (Kick failed), 2:57
Bremen — Eric Knepper 3-yd run (Lucas Schlarb kick), 9:16
Bremen — Eric Knepper 10-yd run (Kick blocked), 3:08
Bremen — Mitch Huppert 7-yd pass from Nate Leeper (Schlarb kick), 0:34
Bremen — Eric Knepper 10-yd run (Kick failed), 8:33
Bremen — Reid Zellmer 6-yd run (Schlarb kick), 2:25
Rushing: 45-285; Miller 10-97, Zellmer 14-90, Eric Knepper 11-86
Passing: Leeper 9-15-0 for 151 yds, 2 TDs
Receiving: Miller 2-35, Mitch Huppert 2-27, Eric Knepper 2-12, Mitch Andrews 1-43
First downs: 22
Penalties-yds lost: 4-38
Rushing: 35-88; Andy Slates 15-36, Dakota Brooke 2-17, James Decker 6-15
Passing: Decker 4-10-2 for 13
Receiving: Caleb Heineman 1-8, Jacob Fier 1-5
First downs: 3
Penalties-yds lost: 2-20
Records: Bremen 7-0 (5-0 NSC), Knox 2-5 (1-4 NSC)