The Trojans’ collective confidence level grew exponentially as the game wore on, which resulted in a dominant defensive effort and a juggernaut power rushing attack that ultimately resulted in a 21-0 shutout win over the host Lakers and helped Fruitport extend their winning streak in the rivalry series to four games.
Photo Gallery: Fruitport football takes on Spring Lake
“We controlled the football well tonight,” said Fruitport head coach Greg Vargas. “We started off a little sluggish, but there were positive signs early on, too. Our offensive line was moving people at the point of attack and that got better and better as the game went on.
“We always talk to the kids about how important it is to improve from Week 1 to Week 2 and that is generally when you see the most improvement during the season. I’m just really proud to see these kids come through in a big game and it’s always fun to beat a rival.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Fruitport sophomore tailback Dominick Colegrove opened up the scoring with a one-yard touchdown plunge with 5:46 left in the half to give the Trojans a 7-0 lead.
Junior quarterback Jakob Carlisle engineered a two-minute drill just before halftime and called his own number from two yards out to give Fruitport a 14-0 lead heading into halftime.
The Trojans’ confidence was sky high at that point and the team hooted and hollered as they ran across the field and into the locker room.
In the second half, the Trojans’ offense milked the clock, while Spring Lake’s offense continued to sputter and stall.
A scoreless third quarter gave the Spring Lake faithful a glimmer of hope as the fourth quarter began but Fruitport’s sophomore standout running back quickly closed the door on those aspirations.
With just five yards separating him from the endzone, Colegrove carried off left tackle, plowed over a Spring Lake defender and spun into the endzone to give Fruitport a commanding 21-0 lead.
The Trojan defense would close things out from there and preserve the shutout road win.
For the game, Fruitport held the Lakers to just 102 total yards and only 60 yards on the ground.
“Our defense came out and played really well,” added Vargas. “We felt like we weren’t in the right positions last week, so I was just glad to see them get some confidence back and take care of business on that side of the ball.
“They (Spring Lake) have some weapons they can throw at you, and I saw them play last week at Grand Valley. They have some kids that can do damage when they get open space, so we did a nice job of bottling them up and not letting them get outside. I thought Crue Cooper, Parker Tawney and Dallas Rogers played great tonight.”
Colegrove finished with 136 yards rushing and two touchdowns to lead the Trojans (1-1), while Jakob Carlisle was 3-for-9 passing for 55 yards and added one rushing touchdown.
“I love watching him run,” Vargas said of Colegrove. “He’s only a sophomore, and he’s only about 190 pounds or so, but he just levels people when he gets going. Sometimes, I think he gets his head out over his front wheel a little bit, but he’s got that forward lean and keeps churning his legs once his initial momentum gets stopped. He punished some people tonight.”
Photo Gallery: Spring Lake Marching Band
After the game, amidst the celebration, Colegrove reflected on his first rivalry game at the varsity level.
“It felt really good. This is my first year on varsity, so I was pretty motivated to come out and help my team win,” he said. “I was just determined to get into the endzone on that last touchdown run.”
The win over Spring Lake brings the Trojans’ win streak in the Battle of the Bayou to four straight games.
“We feel like we have a great chance every year, and the one year we lost (2013), we were kicking ourselves all the way home,” added Vargas. “They always play tough, and Coach (Dan) Start does a great job of getting those kids ready to play. I know that our kids get jazzed up for this game, too. I tell them all the time that I wish we could bring this level of passion to every game we play.
“These games are always close, and we feel very fortunate to come out of here with a win. I just think our defense won the line of scrimmage and our running game wore them down in the second half.”
LAKERS LEARNING ON THE FLY
The story for Spring Lake on Thursday was offensive execution. The Laker offense could only muster seven first downs for the game, compared to 16 for Fruitport. That resulted in the Trojans winning the time of possession battle by seven minutes and wearing down the Laker defense.
“We just weren’t executing. It was there for us, and they ran exactly what we practiced against all week and prepared for it, but we just didn’t execute tonight,” said Spring Lake head coach Dan Start after the game. “They came out and got after it, so hats off to them for how well they played tonight.”
Junior quarterback Caleb Montgomery finished 3-of-9 passing for 42 yards. As the Lakers found themselves down by multiple scores, however, the Trojan defense ramped up the intensity and forced Montgomery into uncomfortable situations.
“That’s something that just comes with experience, and Caleb doesn’t have a ton of experience throwing the football around yet,” Start added. “We’ll keep working with him on that, but I thought he made some great passes early on in the game that helped our offense get moving a little bit.
“Late in the game, as they started to get more pressure on us, he hesitated a little bit on his drop backs, but he’ll get better with that as the season goes along.”
The key for Spring Lake moving forward is the play of its offensive line. According to Start, that unit should see improvement with each passing contest.
“Up front on the offensive line, we need to get more push,” he said. “We’re playing five guys right now that never played varsity football heading into this season. So there’s a big learning curve there, and we’re trying to deal with that as we go along.
“We just need to clean some things up on offense and give our defense a chance to catch their breath. If we don’t sustain drives when we have the ball, it’s going to be difficult for us win football games.”
Fruitport travels to Muskegon on Sept. 8, while Spring Lake plays at Sparta.