On the first day of an unseasonable like Autumn, the temperatures in the state were setting records for highs. At kickoff, it was 85 degrees on the field as The Chelsea Bulldogs hosted the Adrian Maples. And the field wasn’t the only thing hot as the Bulldogs defense turned up the heat to give Chelsea a 23-10 victory.
Both teams came into the game with 3-1 records with 1 conference loss each. The Maples struck first as they took the ball down the field in a methodical way mixing up plays between pass and run and using almost the whole first quarter hoping to confuse a very strong Bulldogs defense. But on third down and short Bulldog defensive back Braden Steele shed his defender’s block and brought down the Maple quarterback for a loss stalling the play. Lincoln had to settle for a field goal and took a 3-0 lead.
The Bulldogs moved the ball 64 yards on their opening drive and answered right back with a 24 yard Cullen Lindsay field goal. After both teams forced each other to swap punts it was the Bulldogs Owen Nikischer making a big interception to snuff Adrian’s drive. That gave Chelsea great field position which they took quick advantage of as sophomore Kyle Knight ran around the left side of his line from 6 yards out for a Bulldog score Knights first varsity touchdown in his first varsity game.
“I felt the nerves kicking in at gametime, “Knight said. “It’s a whole other level up here, faster and stronger. But I feel I handled it well and was happy to be a part of it and help the team.”
“We brought Kyle up to give us some extra speed on the perimeter,” Chelsea Head Coach Brad Bush said of the young running back, who normally plays quarterback on the junior varsity team. Knight got the word Thursday that he would be called up to varsity. “I think he played well,” Bush went on to say.
After a great Quinten Beck punt pinned them deep in their own territory, Adrian was able to move the ball downfield. But in a fourth down situation, the Bulldog defense was able to hold the Maples to no gain forcing them to turn the ball over.
It didn’t long for the Bulldogs to find the end zone as they were able to move the ball 55 yards in only 3 plays, finished off with a big 25 yard run by Jacob Grubbs down the right sideline for the score, giving the Bulldogs a big 17-3 lead at the half.
After the half, both teams swapped punts when late in the third quarter Adrian’s Antwan Ficklen eluded all defenders and jolted down the field for what appeared to be an Adrian score but a very flagrant and unnecessary block in the back penalty nullified the score and took much of the momentum away from the Maples.
As they were driving down the field again threatening it was middle linebacker Owen Nikischer jumping in front of the ball for his second interception of the game and 5th in the last 2 games, giving the Bulldogs back the ball and the momentum once again.
“It’s crazy, never would have been able to dream of this,” Nikischer said about his league-leading 5 interceptions. “Just mentally there, where I’m more aware than last year.”
The pick would lead to the Bulldogs being able to put the icing on the cake with an Aron McDaniels touchdown. The point after by Lindsay was deflected. Adrian would add a score late in the game on an 8-yard touchdown run by Eddie DeForest. The ensuing onside kick attempt by the Maples was recovered by the Bulldogs who just ran the ball to kill the clock giving them the victory.
Nikischer not only had his 2 picks but also led the Bulldogs solid defense with 7 tackles, 1 sack, 2 tackles for loss, and another pass broken up. Braden Steele had 6 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 tackles for loss. Gus Reynolds had the other interception for the Bulldogs.
On the offensive side of the ball quarterback Thomas Steele was near perfect as he went 12 for 15 for 166 yards. Grubbs was the leader on the ground with 60 yards on only 5 carries while Hunter Neff led the receivers with 4 catches for 54 yards.
The Bulldogs travel next week to take on their rival Dexter. Dexter is looking for their first victory of the season as they fell to 0-5 on the season after a 56-21 loss to Pinckney.