GRAND RAPIDS - Special teams and defense helped the Greenville Yellow Jackets football team get off to a quick start and earn its third victory of the season.
The Yellow Jackets forced eight fumbles (recovering three) and scored their first touchdown of the night off a blocked punt in a 49-18 nonconference victory over the Grand Rapids Union Red Hawks on Saturday night at Houseman Field.
“I think we played real well. The kids played hard, which they always do and that’s what we expect out of them,” Greenville coach Dave Moore said. “I thought we ran the ball well and controlled both lines of scrimmage.”
Greenville rushed for 324 yards while holding the Red Hawks to just two yards on the ground.
The Yellow Jackets scored first when Levi Helms busted through the line to block the Red Hawks first punt, which was returned 17-yards by Colt Harrington. Chris Mickey and Miguel Nieto each added 5-yard touchdown runs – Mickey’s after a Union turnover – to jump out to a 21-0 lead with 1:29 remaining in the first quarter.
Union got on the board just over two minutes into the second quarter on a 12-yard catch by Devon Baker from Chaz Carpenter to make the score 21-6.
The game got sloppy after that for both teams with a mixture of fumbles, penalties and punts.
Greenville scored twice in the second with touchdowns by Tyler Rasmussen – 9-yard catch – and a 1-yard run by Mickey. Baker scored his second Union touchdown on a 30-yard catch. The Yellow Jackets led 35-12 at halftime.
“Sometimes when you score early you lose focus and I think we did that,” Moore said. “We asked them to regain focus, especially, in the second half and they did. We got that corrected, but that is something you just can’t have.”
The Yellow Jackets scored twice by the midway point of the third quarter to start the running clock.
Nieto found the endzone for the second time on a 1-yard run while Mickey found the endzone for the third time on an extending 25-yard catch from Curtis Heppe to make the score 49-12.
Greenville’s defense held the Red Hawks offense in check during the second half. Union lost one fumble and punted four times in its first five possessions of the second half.
Union did score on the final play of the game on a 61-yard catch by Dale Smith to set the final score at 49-18.
“I think our effort is tremendous. We play hard, but we aren’t perfect in what we do and nobody is,” Moore said. “But our effort, which is what really counts, it there. Now we just have to get better at what we are doing.”
Mickey finished the night with 124 yards rushing on 16 carries. He caught two passes for 57 yards and had three total touchdowns. Miguel Nieto rushed for 55 yards and two touchdowns. Curtis Heppe passed for 79 yards and two touchdowns. Jordan Powell carried three times and totaled 48 yards.
Greenville’s defense recovered three fumbles, forced the Red Hawks to punt nine times and held them to 193 yards of total offense.
Baker finished with 125 yards receiving on six catches while Smith had 57 yards. Carpenter was 10-for-22 passing with 191 yards and three touchdowns.
The Yellow Jackets improved to 3-1 overall on the season while Union dropped to 0-4 overall.
O-K White Conference play begins Friday as state ranked East Grand Rapids makes the trip to Black Field. The Pioneers are 3-1 on the season after a 61-15 victory over Muskegon Mona Shores on Friday.
“Our scores have been similar in the games we have played,” Moore said of East Grand Rapids. “They are tremendously talented. They have a great tailback, big lineman and they are a great team. We will have to play well.”