STEVENSVILLE — Lakeshore overcame some sloppy play in a 42-20 victory over Niles on Friday in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West Division football action.
The Lancers had 432 yards of offense, but allowed a touchdown on the opening kickoff return, lost two fumbles, and had 12 penalties totaling 130 yards.
“That was one of the weirdest, strangest games I’ve ever seen,” Lakeshore coach Bryan Keim said. “We were fortunate to win, we made enough plays, but we weren’t real good in a whole lot of stuff.”
Niles (0-2 SMAC West, 0-3) took a quick lead on Javond Ball’s 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
The Vikings recovered a fumbled punt later in the first quarter that led to a 15-yard touchdown toss from Brayden Lake to Jamison Zimmerman, putting them up 14-7.
Lakeshore scored the next three touchdowns to take a 28-14 lead at halftime. The Lancers rushed for 231 yards. Aidan Jackson ran 16 times for 122 yards and a score, and Zeke Rohl carried 14 times for 66 yards and four touchdowns.
“I thought Zeke played really well,” Keim said. “Obviously he ran the ball really well.”
Lakeshore quarterback Jimmy Gillette was 20 for 32 passing for 201 yards. Grant Ruddell had a big game receiving, catching 11 passes for 115 yards.
“Right now we’re just struggling with consistency,” Keim said. “We’re either really good or really bad. We need to be a little more consistent with our run game and our pass game. We’ll figure it out.”
Niles pulled within 28-20 early in the third quarter on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Lake to Ball.
Lake threw for 169 yards. Ball had 81 yards receiving and 22 rushing. The Vikings showed improvement over a pair of lopsided losses to open the season.
“We’re not the same team we were two weeks ago, that’s for sure,” Niles coach Joe Sassano said. “We’ve gotten a lot better, we’re starting to find an identity a little bit.”
Niles was also hurt by mistakes. The Vikings lost three fumbles, two of which led to Lancer touchdowns.
“We had a lot of opportunities,” Sassano said. “Turnovers – probably hurt them too, but you’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Lakeshore is at rival St. Joseph next Friday.
“We’ve got a huge game,” Keim said. “We’ve got to fix a lot. I think it will be a good wake-up call for us. I think we overlooked this team, and you can’t do that.”
Bittenbender leads Hall of Fame class
Lakeshore inducted three new members into its Athletics Hall of Fame at halftime of Friday’s game.
Longtime wrestling coach Bruce Bittenbender became the first active coach to enter the hall of fame. He is entering his 50th season and holds the Michigan record for most dual victories with 920.
Also inducted were 1993 graduate Jason Frank and 1982 graduate Scott Gelander. Frank was a two-time all-state soccer selection. Gelander was a three-sport standout in basketball, baseball and football.
Lakeshore 42, Niles 20
Niles 14 0 6 0 — 20
Lakeshore 14 14 7 7 — 42
N — Javond Ball 94 kickoff return (Drew Gourlay kick), 11:47.
L — Zeke Rohl 2 run (Jimmy Gillette kick), 9:21.
N — Jamison Zimmerman 15 pass from Brayden Lake (Gourlay kick), 3:55.
L — Aidan Jackson 36 run (Gillette kick), 1:43.
L — Logan Miller recovered fumble in end zone (Gillette kick), 11:48.
L — Rohl 5 run (Gillette kick), 4:39.
N — Ball 19 pass from Lake (kick failed), 5:40.
L — Rohl 1 run (Gillette kick), 3:32.
L — Rohl 3 run (Gillette kick), 1:15.
First downs 13 18
Total net yards 258 432
Rushes-yards 26-89 37-231
Passing yards 169 201
Comp-att-int 13-30-0 20-32-0
Fumbles-lost 4-3 4-2
Penalties-yards 4-32 12-130
Punts-avg. 4-33.5 3-47.0
Rushing — Niles: Nate Goins 3-48, Ball 7-22, Colin Hess 5-17. Lakeshore: Jackson 16-122, Rohl 14-66, Cage Broglin 3-42.
Passing — Niles: Lake 13-30-0 169. Lakeshore: Gillette 20-32-0 201.
Receiving — Niles: Ball 6-81, Zimmerman 4-46, Goins 1-34. Lakeshore: Grant Ruddell 11-115, Ja’Kobe Young 2-41.
Records — Niles 0-2 SMAC West, 0-3; Lakeshore 1-1, 2-1.
Contact: bsanders@TheHP.com, 429-1294, @HPBenSanders