Giving up 64 points last week didn’t sit well with Nickerson.
Coach Mike Vernon admits his defense is still young and a work in progress, but the unit needed something good to happen after last week’s rout.
Plenty good happened Friday. Nickerson held a good Trinity Academy offense to less than 200 yards, and the Panthers also earned a shutout in winning 32-0.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys playing over there,” Vernon said. “They needed to have success. This is a big confidence booster for the rest of our games, because we should know we can come up with some big plays.”
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Trinity’s offense has had some big games this year. The Knights had scored at least 14 points in every game, and three times, scored 36 points or more.
But the Knights struggled Friday. They had 173 yards and 10 first downs, and while they had only three penalties, they negated big plays. Quarterback Sammy Hardin completed 9 of 31 passes and the receivers had a few dropped passes.
“Penalties ate us up,” Trinity coach Jared McDaniel said. “We also dropped some balls, and those are drive killers. We just didn’t do a good job tonight.”
Despite struggling all night, Trinity had a great chance to build some momentum at halftime. Trailing 12-0 late in the second quarter, the Knights moved the ball to the Nickerson 3-yard line. But on the final two plays of the drive, they managed one yard.
“It was important for the kids to have success in that situation,” Vernon said. “They were assignment sound. It was fun to watch.”
Nickerson’s offense got on track in the second half. On the third play of the third quarter, quarterback Tanner Schrag heaved a deep pass to wide receiver Braden Stewart, who caught the ball and finished a 67-yard touchdown.
On Nickerson’s next drive, running back Austin O’Toole ran 83 yards to the end zone.
“We had a great week of practice,” O’Toole said. “We’ve always been explosive on offense. Sometimes, penalties got us down, but we made some big plays.”
Especially on defense, where even though Nickerson didn’t force a turnover, the Knights rarely moved the ball.
“They fall in line with Garden Plain and Conway Springs,” McDaniel said. “We knew we had no breaks on our schedule this year, but you still have to play them.”
N — O’Toole 18 run (run failed)
N — Kuhns 21 run (run failed)
N — Steward 67 pass from Schrag (O’Toole run)
N — O’Toole 83 run (kick failed)
N — Kuhns 8 run (kick blocked)
Rushing — Trinity, Hardin 17-61, Schroeder 23-47. Nickerson, O’Toole, 10-148, Schrag 8-112, Kuhns 19-101, Isley 5-45, Team 4-(-4).
Passing — Trinity, Hardin 9-31-65-0. Nickerson, Schrag 2-4-84-0.
Receiving — Trinity, Schroeder 3-20, Williams 2-17, Mack 2-9, Adler 1-0. Nickerson, Stewart 1-67, O’Toole 1-17.