BY DENNIS CHASE email@example.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Jeff Turnquist is finding his rhythm.
Good news for Traverse City West.
Bad news for opposing defenses.
The Titans junior quarterback completed 10 of 12 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns Saturday in a 31-14 Big North Conference football win over Petoskey at Thirlby Field.
Turnquist completed all eight of his passes in the first half as West built a 24-7 lead.
“We had good schemes coming in and my offensive line did a good job protecting me,” Turnquist said. “We stuck to our schemes and took advantage of their defensive backs (in matchups).”
Turnquist fired scoring strikes of 15 yards to Geordon Carter and 21 yards to Zach McGuire.
“He’s growing each week,” West coach Tim Wooer said. “It was a big step last week, to have the type of game he had in front of 12,000 people (against Traverse City Central). He took another step today.
“We planned to give him more freedom today and he took advantage of that. Our offensive line did a nice job protecting him and giving him time to make the reads he needed to make.”
The Titans (3-1 overall, 3-0 in BNC) rushed for 126 yards, a total slightly misleading since they lost 38 yards on two snaps that sailed over Turnquist’s head.
Petoskey, meanwhile, rushed for 221 yards — 125 in the fourth quarter — and passed for 15. The Northmen (2-2 overall, 0-2 in the BNC) broke two long runs, a 48-yard touchdown scamper by Chase Ledingham and a 61-yard quarterback keeper by Evan Whitmore. Whitemore’s sprint down the right sideline set-up a two-yard scoring plunge by Luke Schrage.
“We can’t give up big plays,” Titans defensive coordinator Jason Morrow said. “That can’t happen if you’re going to be successful on defense.
“Other than that, I thought we did pretty good. In the first half, four of their five drives were 3-and-out. We’ll take that. But I think we can be more physical and we can tackle better.”
West gained control early, scoring on its first four possessions. Grant Balino had the first two touchdowns on runs of two and six yards. A 44-yard pass to McGuire led to the second score. Zach Gloshen booted a 27-yard field goal with 7:57 left in the second quarter to up the count to 17-0.
After Ledingham’s touchdown run, West responded with a 67-yard drive that ended with Turnquist’s 15-yard pass to Carter.
The Titans added to the lead with 5:19 to go in the third quarter on Turnquist’s 21-yard bullseye to McGuire.
“I’m gaining more confidence each week,” Turnquist said. “I’m getting to know my receivers better, and the line’s doing better. It’s going good.”
Turnquist’s performance came in front of family members that included his grandfather, Gordon, a resident at Grand Traverse Pavilions.
“This is the first time he’s seen me play this year,” Turnquist said. “It was definitely special.”
The Titans host Alpena on Friday.
“We did a lot of good things,” senior lineman Connor Hayes said, “but we still have a long way to go.”
Sophomore guard — and Petoskey transfer — Tommy Roush agreed.
“We’re young and we’re going to get better — we need to get better,” he said.
Wooer, though, likes how his team’s progressed.
“Our young guys are growing up,” he said. “We have six sophomores, a lot of young kids. We knew the heavy part of our (early) schedule was going to be rough on our young kids. We’ve survived it and we have to continue to move forward.”