CULVER — Culver Community senior Sam Hissong hauled in two of junior quarterback Collin Stevens’ four touchdown tosses Friday against Triton.
Considering the pads-popping downfield block he threw to free junior running back Matt Hurford for the Cavs’ first touchdown reception, Hissong’s own catches seemed like a fitting reward in Culver’s 33-3 Northern State Conference-opening football win at steamy Cavalier Field.
“Sam made a great block,” Culver head coach Andy Thomas said. “He gave a tremendous effort. He came from across the field, he didn’t give up on the play and kept hustling. It was a good, hard, physical play.
“Every win in the NSC is huge,” he added. “Triton’s always been a big game for us; whenever we play Triton it’s always a hard-fought game. This was a nice game for us under tough conditions, tough conditions for both teams. I’m proud of our guys.”
All told, Stevens capped off the Cavs’ opening possession with a 5-yard keeper, and then fired one touchdown pass during each quarter, starting with his 47-yard catch and carry to Hurford. He hit Hissong for 19 and 38 yards during the second and fourth frames respectively, with a 21-yard pass to 6-foot-6 Micah Budzinski sandwiched in between.
“We really focused on stopping the option,” Triton head coach Rodney Younis said. “Culver’s good with the option. We had a couple of young kids in the secondary bite too hard. We’ve just got to learn from those mistakes.”
Meanwhile, Triton, which used a big-play aerial attack during the first two games of the season, showed more of a running game out of its shotgun spread against Culver. The Trojans pushed the ball into Culver turf seven separate times, but settled for just a 27-yard Tanner Shepherd field goal to make it a 14-3 game with 5:35 left in the first half.
The Cavs answered immediately with the first of Hissong’s scores to grab a 20-3 lead with 3:03 to go before the intermission.
“Triton was a little bit different tonight; they made more of an effort to run,” Thomas said. “The first two weeks they tried to hit the home run pass. We didn’t really do anything different. All week we told our defensive backs to stay inside and in front of the ball. Don’t let the ball go over your head. We got some pretty good pressure on them.”
Triton drove the ball inside the Culver 20 in the waning seconds of the first half, but Culver linebacker Kevin Hogan broke up a pass and then sacked Triton quarterback Bryson Mosier at the horn.
Triton’s Erik Hoffman won a loose-ball scramble early in the third frame, and the Trojans once again penetrated the red zone before Culver’s Tyler Lowry recovered a fumble at his own 13 to terminate the threat.
“We were able to run the ball more tonight,” Younis said. “We had some good drives, we just couldn’t finish. Culver brought the pressure from the inside and mixed it up with the outside. I thought we did a pretty good job at times of picking up the pressure and blocking. There were a few times we needed to do a better job moving our feet and got caught flat-footed. Still, I saw progress.”
Also for the Cavs, Cole Flora rushed for 57 yards and a two-point conversion before exiting late in the third quarter with an ankle injury.
“(Offensive lineman) Nick Zehner had some good blocks on sweeps,” Thomas said. “Cole Flora finished his run pretty well before he got hurt. It was a good team effort.”
For the Trojans, Mosier finished with 65 yards rushing, followed by Cody Shively with 63 yards.
“I saw progress on both sides of the ball,” Younis said. “That’s the goal — get better each week. We made progress this week.”
Culver heads to New Prairie next week, while Triton ventures to Bremen.
• CULVER COMMUNITY 33,
Score by quarters
Triton: 0 3 0 0 — 3
Culver: 14 6 7 6 — 33
C — Collin Stevens 5 run (kick blocked), 3:43.
C — Matt Hurford 47 pass from Stevens (Cole Flora run), 1:53.
T — Tanner Shepherd 27 FG, 5:35.
C — Sam Hissong 19 pass from Stevens (kick blocked), 3:03.
C — Micah Budzinski 21 pass from Stevens (Stevens kick), 4:53.
C — Hissong 38 pass from Stevens (kick blocked), 10:59.
Rushing: 43 carries for 198 yards (Bryson Mosier 21-65, Cody Shively 11-63, Tyler Milton 3-23, DJ Riffle 2-7, Grant Stichter 2-(minus)9.
Passing: Mosier 7-15, 49 yards
Receiving: Cole Creighbaum 2-22, Marc Lindsey 2-6, Shepherd 1-16, Shively 1-5, Drew Mosson 1-0.
Tackles: Cody Shively 5.
First downs: 14
Rushing: 30 carries for 160 yards (Flora 7-57, Kevin Hogan 3-30, Hissong 4-29, Stevens 6-27, Matt Hurford 5-20, Shelton Barger 1-1, Shawn Russell 1-(minus)1, Preston Hansel 3-(minus)3.
Passing: Stevens 8-11-1, 198 yards
Receiving: Budzinski 4-77, Hissong 3-74, Hurford 1-47.
Tackles: Kevin Hogan 10.
First downs: 11
Records: Triton 0-3 (0-1 NSC), Culver 2-1 (1-0 NSC).