“Traverse City was a very good team, and they ran a very good system,” Grad Haven head coach Joe Nelsen said. “They have a great coaching staff and had those kids ready to roll.”
The game was tied at zero through the first quarter, as both teams searched for weak points in their opponent.
“We were just getting acclimated to what they were throwing at us, and they had a bend-don’t-break kind of defense. We were hanging in there and doing a pretty good job.”
The Titans struck first as the second quarter began on a 28-yard run by runningback Jacob Pawloski, they nailed the two point conversion to take an 8-0 lead.
The game didn’t stay close for long, as the Titans did not let up after the bonus point. They scored the next two touchdowns to mount a 24-0 lead over Grand Haven.
Grand Haven lit their half of the scoreboard as the first half wound down on a 29-yard touchdown pass by Adam Nelsen to Collin Takas.
“Offensively, we started slow,” Nelsen said. “But, later on in the half, we did get a few things going and had some success. We were able to open it up a little bit and throw the ball a little more than we were expecting to be able to.”
Two homerun plays put the game entirely out of reach in the third, as Traverse City ripped off 65-yard and 41-yard touchdown runs to take a 38-7 lead.
“Sometimes, when facing this kind of offense, we just have to stay within ourselves and trust our keys,” Nelsen said. “When we started to get behind, we started second guessing ourselves instead of staying disciplined.”
In the fourth, the Titans tacked on a 29-yard field goal to reach their final score of 41.
The Bucs took the final score of the game on a 19-yard touchdown run by Tristan Winkleman and extra point by Jake Thayer.
The Titans used a dominant rushing attack to roll over the Bucs, racking up 409 yards on the ground on 48 carries. By comparison, Grand Haven mustered just 109 yards on 34 carries.
Charlie Young took the bulk of the Grand Haven carries, running for 37 yards.
Senior Grand Haven quarterback Adam Nelsen out threw the Titans, connecting on nine of his 17 passing attempts for 98 yards, while Traverse City finished 5-for-13 for 63 yards.
Collin Takas served as the Bucs’ most productive target, racking up 35 receiving yards and one touchdown on his two receptions.
Kellum Bridgeforth led the defense with six tackles, ahead of Malic Love, Charlie Young and Carter Williams with four apiece.
The Bucs (0-2) return to the field next week to face off with O-K Red Conference competitor Grandville (1-1), but may have a leg up early.
“We are going to see that same offense next week, so we will study hard tomorrow,” Nelsen said. “We will come back tomorrow and study film the film, figure out where things went wrong and what went well.
“If we trust the system, we can shut teams like this down. If we execute instead of guessing and doing other peoples jobs, we will be better off.”
Grand Haven hosts Grandville at home on Friday, with kickoff slated for 7 p.m.