PLYMOUTH — Sam Stevens and the Rockie Express kept rolling right along Friday night.
The junior fullback rambled 29 times for 162 yards and two scores, helping Plymouth pull away for a 37-13 victory over Northridge in Northern Lakes Conference football action at The Rockpile.
Clinging to a 15-13 lead early in the third quarter, the 6-foot, 180-pound Stevens found an opening and raced 27 yards to cap off a six-play, 61-yard march to give the Rockies (3-1, 2-0 NLC) a little breathing room.
Stevens later capped off a run of 22 unanswered points with a one-yard run to lift Plymouth to its third straight win.
Over the last three weeks, the Rockies have rushed for more than 1,200 yards with nearly half of this total coming from Stevens.
“Sam can carry the ball 10, 12, or 15 times in a row if he has to,” said Plymouth coach John Barron. “If it’s successful, we’ll keep feeding him the ball. Sam was definitely the workhorse here for us tonight.”
Stevens got plenty of help with senior back Chase Peters chipping in 82 yards and two scores on 10 attempts, along with 10 carries for 62 yards from junior quarterback Ike kastner.
“We have the luxury of having guys like (running back) Cole (Mann), Chase, and Ike to turn to,” Barron added. “If necessary, it gives us a couple more weapons to turn to.”
Things looked promising early on for the Raiders (0-4, 0-2 NLC) as they took the opening kickoff and drove it from their 30 to the Plymouth 4.
Although Northridge turned the ball over on downs, things proved to be better the second time around for the visitors.
Sophomore quarterback Trevor Love hooked up with freshman Travis Schlabach on a 49-yard scoring strike to put the Raiders on top.
The Rockies answered right back with an 11-play, 65-yard drive capped off by a three-yard run from Peters on the first play of the second quarter.
“I think we’re starting to get a feel for our offense,” Barron said. “We’ve got a nice offensive line. They’re big, strong kids who are smart and communicate well together.”
It only took two plays, though, to break the 7-7 deadlock as Trenton Briles stepped in front of a Love offering and returned it 21 yards to the end zone.
“I thought that pick six from Briles was a big momentum swing,” Barron said. “They had gotten some big chunks of yards against us, so that allowed us to gain some of it (momentum) back.”
The Raiders got a little closer early in the third quarter as Love and Schlabach connected again, this time for 19 yards.
However, the two-point conversion failed and the Rockies answered back seven points of their own.
Love finished 11-of-25 for 199 yards with Schlabach totalling 112 yards on four catches.
“We were just inconsistent offensively tonight,” said Northridge coach Jonathan Kirkton. “That’s the way it’s been for us this season. We made some big plays and then turned around and hurt ourselves with mistakes. We’re making strides. We just can’t use our inexperience as an excuse anymore because we’ve played four games already.”
Scott Kasten and Sam Stahley had fumble recoveries for the Raiders.
“I thought our defense played well tonight,” Kirkton added. “We caused some turnovers. We just weren’t able to capitalize on them. They’ve (Plymouth) got a great running team and Stevens is really good.”
Michael Garrity added a fumble recovery for the Rockies, who travel to Elkhart Memorial next Friday.
“Having only six seniors and putting in a new offense, we knew it was going to take time,” Barron said. “We’re enjoying some success now. That’s why it’s important to keep things rolling and work on getting better each week.”
• PLYMOUTH 37,
Score by quarters
Northridge: 7 0 6 0 — 13
Plymouth: 0 15 15 7 — 37
N — Travis Schlabach 4-yd pass from Tanner Love (Jordan Smith kick), 4:07
P — Chase Peters 3-yd run (Jordan Knapp kick), 11:53
P — Trenton Briles 21-yd interception return (Mack Mercer pass from Ike Kastner), 1:58
N — Schlabach 19-yd pass from Love (pass failed), 9:12
P — Sam Stevens 27-yd run (Knapp kick), 6:04
P — Peters 40-yd run (Stevens run), 1:25
P — Stevens 1-yd run (Knapp kick), 10:11
Rushing: 27-81; Schlabach 4-33, Tanner Love 9-17
Passing: Love 11-25-1 for 199 yds
Receiving: Schlabach 4-110
First downs: 14
Penalties-yds lost: 2-25
Rushing: 63-386; Stevens 29-165, Peters 10-83, Ike Kastner 10-61
Passing: Kastner 2-4-0 for 69 yds
Receiving: Derek Lee 2-70
First downs: 21
Penalties-yds lost: 3-24
Records: Northridge 0-4 (0-2 NLC), Plymouth 3-1 (2-0 NLC)