TRAVERSE CITY — Normally, it’s Glen Lake’s quick-scoring drives that have kept the Lakers’ offense off the field.
But on Saturday night it was a combination of defense and offense by Traverse City St. Francis that kept the Lakers’ vaunted offense off the field.
The Lakers were limited to 28 plays and 167 total yards as the Gladiators were stingy on defense and chewed up large chunks of clock on offense in taking a 28-21 victory over the Lakers at Thirlby Field.
Joe Trucco rushed for 165 yards, Adam Armour added 100 yards and two touchdowns and Daniel Gallagher also scored twice on a night when the St. Francis (5-3) ground game and ball-control was working in top form. St. Francis racked up 364 yards rushing.
“It’s kind of what we’ve been all year,” said St. Francis coach Greg Vaughan. “We’ve got to keep running the ball and moving the ball. I think we did a better job of converting when we had to. Obviously, you had an unbelievable effort of some running backs taking a lot of guys into the end zone. I thought our defense did very well. Obviously, (Glen Lake running back Trevor) Apsey, you’ve just got to slow him down, you’re not going to stop him.”
But Apsey was contained, held to 85 yards on 11 carries, well below his season averages.
“We knew this game was going to be like this,” said Glen Lake coach Jerry Angers. “We needed to make a play on defense and we didn’t.
The Gladiators took a 14-7 lead into the half after scoring on their first two possessions. St. Francis got on the board first on a 6-yard run by Armour, then followed with a 1-yard plunge by Gallagher. Glen Lake got its first touchdown between those scores, as quarterback Travis Wiltjer burst through the St. Francis defense for a 57-yard run to paydirt on the Lakers’ first time with the ball.
In the second half Armour added a 13-yard touchdown in the third quarter, carrying defenders several yards into the end zone with him to make it a 21-7 game. Glen Lake cut it to 21-14 on a 10-yard run by Carter Lee, who didn’t see much action on offense because of a banged up knee. Gallagher’s 9-yard run put St. Francis ahead 28-14 with 2:17 left, but Glen Lake was able to get it back to seven with 54 seconds left on a 9-yard pass from Wiltjer to David Grzebienik. The Lakers couldn’t come up with the onside kick, however, and St. Francis was able to run out the clock.