Best of halves, worst of halves as Plymouth falls to Concord

PLYMOUTH — One good half of football wasn’t enough to get the Plymouth High football team over the hump Friday night.
Five second-half turnovers proved to be costly for the Rockies as Concord rallied for 45-14 victory over Plymouth in Northern Lakes Conference action at the Rockpile.
Trailing 14-3 near the midway of the second quarter, the Minutemen (5-2, 5-0 NLC) managed to cut the deficit to four points at the break on a three-yard run by Jarrett Settles.
This proved just the boost Concord needed in the second half to add five more touchdowns, two of them coming on runs of five and 46 yards from senior Mike Jones.
After accumulating 175 yards of offense in the opening half, the Rockies (3-4, 2-3 NLC) had just 25 more on the ground after that, along with coughing up the ball five times.
“I didn’t like giving up that score right before the half because it gave them some momentum,” said Plymouth coach John Barron. “Even though I thought we were still in a good position to do some good things in the second half, that (touchdown) gave them some hope. You can’t turn the ball over five times like we did, though, and expect to win. The problem with this team has been its inability to overcome mistakes. That really cost us tonight.”
Everything went well in the early stages as Plymouth went 80 yards on seven plays with its first possession.
A 68-yard scamper from junior Jordan Knapp paved the way for Chase Peters to cap off the drive with a two-yard run.
The Minutemen established a time-consuming drive of their own by taking up almost six minutes and 13 plays before settling for a 32-yard field goal from Nick Wysong.
Plymouth appeared to reestablish command by going 72 yards in 14 plays with Peters ending the 7:04 drive with a three-yard romp into the end zone.
“The way we played in the first half was the best we’ve played all season,” Barron said. “That’s the football team I know. We came out focused. We came out poised. We had a couple of big plays that got us going. We converted a couple of fourth-down plays. I was really excited with the way we were playing. But, you have to play that way for four quarters and not just two.”
Helped along with two fourth-down conversions of its own, Concord managed to give itself some hope with a 14-play, 82-yard march before halftime.
“The one thing about this team that I know is that they are going to play hard for four quarters,” said Concord coach Tim Dawson. “I feel good about the identity of our seniors and that they are going to give me everything
they’ve got. We continue to dig ourselves some holes, but the one thing is we didn’t panic when we fell behind (14-3) tonight. Hats off to Plymouth for the way they played in the first half. They made the most of their chances.
“We made some adjustments defensively at halftime that worked and allowed us to take away when they wanted to do. Our kids stepped up, forced some turnovers, and shut them down.”
In addition to running for 102 yards and two scores on 21 attempts, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Jones also came up with a pair of fumble recoveries.
“Mike started the season at defensive back before we moved him to offense when DuWhan (Alford) got hurt,” Dawson said. “We gave him a little break there in the first half, but then decided to go with him after that since we had a chance to win the conference.”
Others to come up with loose footballs for Concord were Taylor Miller, Brandon Thomas, and Indiana recruit Jason Spriggs, who returned his 29 yards for a score late in the third quarter.
Quarterback Trevor McKibben finished 10-of-19 for 99 yards, including a 20-yard scoring strike to Franko House.
The 6-4, 220-pound junior House ended up with six catches for 64 yards.          
“Trevor made some nice throws and did a nice job of managing the offense,” Dawson said. “I’m really happy with our performance. I can’t remember a second half in which we executed as well both offensively and defensively.”
Knapp ended up with four rushes for 74 yards and had nine tackles on the defensive side for the Rockies, who host Goshen next Friday.
“I told our seniors afterwards that we have to stay together and not give up,” Barron said. “The coaching staff is going to continue working hard and help us get better with fundamentals. We’re going to do the things we do best which are running the football and play good, tough, hard defense.”
At Plymouth
Concord  3 7 21 14-45
Plymouth 7 7  0  0-14
P — Chase Peters 2 run (Jordan Knapp kick)
C — Nick Wysong 32 FG
P — Peters 3 run (Knapp kick)
C — Jarrett Settles 3 run (Wysong kick)
C — Franko House 20 pass from Ryan McKibbin (Wysong kick)
C — Mike Jones 5 run (Wysong kick)
C — Jason Spriggs 29-yard fumble recovery (Wysong kick)
C — Jones 46 run (Wysong kick)
C — Trevor Wilmore 10 run (Ryan Tepe kick)
   Concord  Plymouth
First downs  14   11
Rushing yards  185   203
Passing yards  114   0
Passing   11-20-0   0-3-0
Punting   4-40   3-26
Fumbles lost  0   5
Penalties  3-25   3-20
Records: Concord: 5-2, 5-0 NLC, Plymouth 3-4, 2-3 NLC