By Travis Smola
The Vicksburg Varsity football team continued a stellar season, winning its final regular-season game at home against the Paw Paw Red Wolves 35-13.
The Bulldogs began the game slowly with a three-and-out, then a turnover on a high snap on their first two possessions. Fortunately, Vicksburg’s defense held Paw Paw at bay both times.
“Every week is a little bit different; they’re a really good defensive team that crowds the box,” Head Coach Tom Marchese said. “And as much as you try to emulate that on the scout team, the speed is a little bit different. I thought our defense played really well. It was bend but not break in the beginning.”
The Red Wolves opened the scoring on a field goal to make it 3-0 early. However, the Bulldogs took the lead on their third possession after a six-play drive which almost saw Vicksburg commit a second turnover on a high snap. Evan Anderson found Keannen Miller wide open in the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown pass. The extra point made it 7-3 late in the first.
Paw Paw’s next drive resulted in the team taking the lead again with a touchdown early in the second to make the score 10-7. Vicksburg responded with a five-play scoring drive that was capped with a beautiful roll out and pass from Anderson to Bo Skidmore, who found himself wide open along the sideline. He then ran it the rest of the way for a 55-yard touchdown. The extra point made things 14-10 in favor of the home team.
With a little over two minutes left in the half, the Red Wolves decided to try some trickery and got burned. On an attempted halfback pass, Bryce Smith read the play the whole way and picked it off for an interception that set up the Bulldogs at their own 39-yard line. Four plays later, Anderson threw his third touchdown of the night, a 20-yarder to Logan Jones, who broke two tackles on his way to the endzone. At the half it was Vicksburg 21, Paw Paw 10.
“That’s the double-edged sword when you put you put seven guys in the box. You can stop the run and you’re asking your corners and safeties to play man to man,” Marchese said. “We’ve got some speedy kids, so we got a couple opportunities. We picked and chose when to take a shot, and I thought Evan and our receivers did a really good job when those opportunities presented themselves to us.”
Paw Paw got the ball first in the second half and converted it into a field goal in what ended up being the Red Wolves final score of the night.
“Really what was big for us tonight was when we messed up on offense or they got two short fields, we held them to two field goals,” Marchese said. “So, getting six points instead of 14 is gigantic.”
The Bulldogs did not score again until the fourth when Skidmore scored on a three-yard direct snap with 6:50 left in the game to help pull the score to 28-13. On the next drive, Smith got his second pick of the night which led to Anderson’s fourth TD of the night, a 19-yarder to Miller. The extra point made it 35-12.
“When we had to run the ball, we did, we found our footing, and then when big plays were there on two big pass plays, our quarterback found the guys and both guys ran the ball for a touchdown, which was great,” Marchese said.
The Bulldogs won their final regular season game on the road against Otsego 49-14 to finish their season, 8-1.
By Travis Smola