(MICHIGAN CITY, IN) - The La Porte Slicers, playing their most complete game of the year, spoiled Michigan City's Homecoming with a hard-fought 21-12 win.
La Porte received the opening kickoff. After picking up one first down, the Slicers faced a 3rd down and 19 from their own 28. Michigan City dialed up a blitz, but the Slicer coaching staff called a middle screen pass to Kai Jones that worked perfectly. Jones caught the Dylan Salisbury pass around the line of scrimmage and sprinted 72 yards for the game's first score. Jack Doty kicked the extra point, but the play was whistled dead as Michigan City jumped offside. After the ball was moved to the 1 ½ yard line, La Porte elected to go for 2. The attempt failed, and the Slicers led 6-0 with 9:21 left in the first quarter after the five-play 72-yard drive.
With 9 minutes remaining in the 2nd quarter, Jones struck again. Michigan City had all 11 defenders within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. After taking a handoff, Jones popped through the right side of the line, blew past the first line of Wolves defenders, and sprinted 67 yards for his 2nd touchdown. The Slicers converted the 2-point conversion when Salisbury found Tommy Samuelson, who had fallen, sitting in the end zone for the 2-point conversion. La Porte led 14-0.
Michigan City returned with two scores in the second quarter's final four minutes of the 2nd quarter. Using the size advantage of their offensive line, the Wolves ground out two rushing touchdowns. The first was a 7-yard run by their all-everything back Jaden Hart, then 3 minutes later, a 4-yard run by Derrick Coleman. The Wolves failed on both extra points, which played a huge part in this game. A high snap caused kicker Andrew Oleksiuk to miss his first kick of the season after the first touchdown. The Wolves failed on a 2-point attempt after the 2nd touchdown when the Slicer defense stuffed Hart for a loss.
La Porte led 14-12 at the half, but it felt like momentum had turned in the Wolves' favor.
The 3rd quarter was scoreless, with the Slicer defense bending but not breaking.
The Slicers scored a huge touchdown at the 7:00-minute mark of the 4th quarter. Freshman Lucas Del Rio, usually a defensive end, scored on a 1-yard run. This came from the Truck Power set La Porte uses in short-yardage situations. Quarterback Salisbury goes under center. Del Rio, fellow defensive end Sam Pressler, and linebacker Brennan Balka line up in a t-formation. Jack Doty kicked the all-important extra point to give LP a 9-point two-score lead of 21-12.
A significant part of the drive came when a Michigan City defender was called for a late hit out of bounds after Gavin Garrett had picked up a huge first down. The MC player was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for arguing and was ejected. This all turned into a 30-yard penalty setting up the final Slicer score.
Michigan City drove the ball to the Slicer 7. The Wolves' drive ended on a frightening play. On 3rd and goal from the 4, Wolves quarterback Tyler Bush went back to pass, couldn't find an open receiver, and decided to try and run it in. Diving for the end zone, he was hit hard just shy of the goal line fumbling into the end zone, and the Slicers recovered. Bush, who had gone headfirst toward the goal line, was down for several minutes. He eventually walked off the field with help.
La Porte was able to pick up two first downs and then run the clock out for their 2nd win.
There were plenty of standouts for the Slicers, Offensively quarterback Dylan Salisbury 8-15 for 176 and a touchdown pass. Kai Jones ran eight times for 68 yards with a rushing and receiving touchdown. Nathan Donah ran for 49 hard yards on 14 carries. Lucas Del Rio ran three times for 12 yards and a touchdown. Ollie Kring caught five passes for 71 yards. Tommy Samuelson caught 2 for 20 yards, including a 2-point conversion.
La Porte's defense was outstanding. Three times in the 2nd half, they stopped Michigan City on 4th and short deep in Slicer territory. Brennan Balka and Javelle Broome were great at the linebacker position. The defensive backfield of Drew Flores, Evan Back, Keegan Anderson, and Robbie Rompa shut down the Michigan City passing game. The defensive line, outweighed by 40lbs a man, kept Jaden Hart from breaking a big play.
La Porte is now 2-6 and will finish the regular season at Portage next Friday. Michigan City, also 2-6, will host undefeated Crown Point next week.