Posted on 23 July 2015.
By Shae Brophy
The West Michigan Hawks hosted archrival Grand Rapids Thunder, on Saturday, at Skinner Field. In what was the most anticipated game of the season for both teams, there was a definite buzz among the players as the game began. The Hawks received the opening kickoff, and we were underway, at least momentarily. The Hawks took the ball deep into Thunder territory after quarterback Jeff Krebs completed a pass to receiver Darwin Mathis, which Mathis ran all the way down to the three yard line. Upon the completion of the play, the referees called for a break in the action due to lightning. This came at 2:58 into the game, and lasted for approximately 45 minutes. When the game resumed, the Hawks were unable to punch the ball in on four consecutive plays, allowing the Thunder to take over at the two-yard line. On the first Thunder play, Hawks linebacker Jeremy Watson met the running back in the end zone, forcing a fumble and recovering it for a Hawks touchdown.
With the Hawks leading 7-0, they scored another touchdown in the first quarter. Krebs completed a pass over the middle to tight end Stan Scott, who rumbled his way down the field, blowing past the Thunder backfield, for a 61-yard touchdown. Dontae Ensley’s extra point made the score 14-0, which held until the end of the first quarter.
The Thunder dominated the second quarter, scoring two touchdowns, and would lead 15-14 at halftime.
The Hawks were re-motivated at the half, however. With a large portion of members from the Hawks having played for the Thunder last season, it was obvious how badly they wanted to come out on top in this game, and you could tell by how they played in the second half.
With their team trailing, Krebs and Scott connected for another touchdown early in the fourth quarter, with the two point conversion failing, making the score 20-15. For Scott, they were his first two touchdowns of the season, while Krebs threw for three for the game, and now has 12 on the season.
The Hawks were able to force another turnover on downs with less than a minute to go, forcing an incomplete pass while the Thunder were in the red zone. Cornerback Omar Haynes swatted down the last gasp for the Thunder on fourth down, and the victory celebration was on. This was the first game of the season for the Hawks with no interceptions, but they still managed to force five turnovers (Watson fumble recovery for a touchdown, fumble recovered by free safety Craig Marquardt, and three turnovers on downs.) This brings their overall record to 2-4 on the season.
“It was a very intense game. We had moments where the momentum dropped, but we powered through in the end,” said Scott. “Even mother nature couldn’t stop the Hawks from soaring tonight.”
Head coach David Lange added: “At the beginning of the season, we were projected to lose every game we played, due to the fact that this is a first year team. We have proven that prediction to be wrong, twice now! We came out hot against our biggest rivals, and even though we lost that intensity going into the half, we were able to rally around each other to get the win. I’m very proud of these men, and proud to be the coach of this football team.”
With the victory, the Hawks have now qualified for the Crossroads Tournament, played at the end of the year. This is tournament for the top team from each division that does not qualify for the playoffs. With a victory in either of their last two games, the Hawks will clinch home field advantage in the first round of the tournament.
The Hawks will be playing at home again on Saturday against the Michigan Vipers. Tickets will be $5 at the gate, with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. Doors will open at 6.
Be sure to follow the team on Facebook for more details on the upcoming schedule, as well as the scheduling of the Crossroads Tournament!