Warriors take ‘Independence’ from last year by routing Colts
The Independence game of 2002 is a game Whittell’s defensive linemen won’t soon forget.
Whittell’s defense, and particularly the defensive line, overpowered its opponent Saturday, holding the Independence High School Colts to 64 yards total on offense to earn a 41-0 opening 2A Northern League shutout victory.
In doing so, the Warriors sent the memory of last year’s 77-0 loss to the Colts out to sea, and beefed up their confidence in the process.
“I’m not surprised,” said Independence’s head coach Clark Davidson. “I expected (Whittell) to want to (do well) after last year E They’re much more enthusiastic to play the game and much better coached.”
Davidson said his defensive line was having problems blocking and guarding against the Whittell’s powerful “D.”
“And when you have that many fumbles at center, you’re in trouble,” Davidson said.
Whittell’s defense forced six fumbles and recovered three. They sacked the Colts’ quarterback Brian Arp three times for 13 yards, and held their opponent to 0 yards receiving and 64 total rushing.
In addition to shutting down the offense, the line turned around and made strong blocks to give quarterback Nick Lowe the time to connect with receivers downfield or run the ball.
Lowe went 9-of-10 passing for 142 yards, rushed for 11 yards and made two touchdown passes — the first to Brian Johnson at 6:33 into the game on the Warriors’ first drive.
The Warriors held the Colts to four plays on their next drive, and took over from their own 44.
Seven plays later, Lowe handed off to senior running back Alex Swearingen for an 11-yard touchdown run at 2:48 in the first half to take a 14-0 lead.
On the Colts’ second play of their next drive, senior linebacker Jake Summers sacked Arp, forcing a fumble. The Warriors’ Parker Fox recovered.
Two plays later, Lowe connected with sophomore running back Christian Anton, who took the ball 33 yards for a touchdown.
“First of all, I have to credit my blockers,” said Anton of Casey Canto and Parker Fox, the lineman and tight end who made key blocks on his touchdown runs. “They were key blocks and without them I would have been hit.”
Anton made his first touchdown of the year with 1:17 to go in the first quarter to take a 21-0 lead. And he wouldn’t stop there.
Anton, one of the shortest players on the team at 5-foot-7 and 130-pounds, had some of the biggest offensive plays of the day with three touchdowns, 96 yards rushing and 33 yards receiving.
The Warriors blitzed on the second play of the Colts’ next drive, forcing yet another fumble.
The Warriors fumbled the ball on the Colts’ 2-yard line in their next possession. But senior linemen Summers and Ian Haessly sacked Arp in the end zone on the next play for a safety.
“We played with a lot of pressure and they couldn’t get into their offensive sync’ at allE ” said Warrior head coach Mike Evans. “The line was coming off the ball real well.”
Whittell received the kick and scored a fourth touchdown seven plays later with an 8-yard run by Anton with 9:52 to go before the half.
With a 29-0 lead, Whittell — for a moment — saw signs that it could reach the 77-point deficit from last year if the second half went as well as the first.
But the Colts switched their front from five men to six, and had more success holding onto the ball. However, they still couldn’t break the Warriors’ defense.
Anton scored on a 20-yard interception return with 6:46 to go in the third quarter to give the Warriors a 35-0 lead.
Summers scored the Warriors’ final touchdown with 6:59 left on a 1-yard run after Fox recovered his second fumble on the Colts’ 9-yard line.
“I didn’t feel like I had an ‘A’ performance, but I got the job done E” Fox said.
The Warriors are now 1-0 in league and 2-1 overall. They face Pershing County on Friday in Lovelock.
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