Chesterton turns out the lights on Portage
By CJ PETERS
CHESTERTON – Just when you thought the year 2020 couldn’t get any weirder, Friday night at Chesterton happened.
Merely seconds after Chesterton’s opening kickoff rolled out of bounds, with Portage set to take the field, the power went out at the school and nearby areas. A reported hit-and-run into a NIPSCO pole would knock out power for the next several hours, forcing Friday’s Duneland Athletic Conference game to Saturday night.
And while Saturday’s gusty conditions didn’t lend to gaudy numbers on the stat sheets, Chesterton grinded its way to a 20-0 win on homecoming night.
“That was a very important win, every game is important, but after coming off another tough loss, that was one we needed,” Chesterton junior linebacker Gage DeMarco said. “We did a pretty good and were able to do what we wanted to do. We need to go out there and try to do the same thing next week.”
Without the aid of Portage starting quarterback and leading rusher Tylee Swopes, Chesterton (3-3, 3-1) held the Indians to 83 yards on 35 carries and to 172 yards overall.
“We were preparing all week on how to keep (Portage) contained and planned on doing that with (Swopes) and he ended up not even playing, so we had to make a quick adjustment,” DeMarco said. “We weren’t expecting him to be out, but we still had to be able to adjust quickly and do our job. We were physical, tough, and we were winning our one-on-ones and not getting held down.”
DeMarco had a fumble recovery in the fourth after the Indians (2-4, 1-3) bobbled a snap deep in Chesterton territory.
“He brings great energy and he’s gonna work his tail off and get in on every play that he can,” Chesterton coach Mark Peterson said of DeMarco. “He’s got a great attitude and he’s been a hard worker. When you see him start to make plays, it gets other kids fired up to make them, too.
“I’m really pleased overall with the guys on defense. It was maybe a little bit of a ‘bend but don’t break’ mentality, but boy, they really rose to the occasion when the down and distance called for it.”
Due to blustery conditions, the Trojans (3-3, 3-1) took to the ground with 31 carries for 172 yards, led by quarterback Chris Mullen’s 12 carries for 69 yards and a score.
Ethan Pickering added 13 carries for 67 yards and Colby Bullock had five for 32 in rounding out the rushing attack.
“I gotta give the kids a ton of credit because they came back with great focus,” Peterson said. “It’s hard for both teams to come back after a change like that. Both teams played well to start, but we got some time of possession and that played in our favor.
“Colby was the usual workhorse. The offensive line did some nice things as well and there was success there for those guys.”
Mullen threw for 104 yards, connecting with senior Mitch McElfresh in the third quarter for a 16-yard score. Chesterton ran 27 plays over their three scoring drives.
“That was huge to put drives together and the neat part about that was that we were doing it with mostly a throwing attack,” Peterson said. “Chris has been exceptional and I’ve said that 100 times and will say it 1,000 more. Mitch McElfresh stepped up and made some big catches for us."
In taking its third straight loss, Portage coach Terry Chestovich put the blame squarely on his shoulders.
“I gotta make sure we’re ready to play and right now, we’re not ready to play,” Chestovich said. “I take full responsibility for that. I gotta do a better job to make sure we’re ready when we step on the field.
“We took one tonight.”
Chesterton 20, Portage 0
Portage 0 0 0 0 – 0
Chesterton 7 6 7 0 – 20
C – Chris Mullen 1 run (Jackson Syren kick), 5:32
C – Mullen 3 run (kick failed), 6:04
C – Mitch McElfresh 16 pass from Mullen (Syren kick), 10:00
RUSHING – PORTAGE, Terrell Craft 14-41, Josh Bloom 15-21, Jermaine Mead Jr. 5-16, Jaivon Gordon 1-4, Devan Howard 1-1. CHESTERTON, Chris Mullen 12-69, Ethan Pickering 13-67, Colby Bullock 5-32, Ethan Troy 1-4.
PASSING – PORTAGE, Bloom 11-18-0-89. CHESTERTON, Mullen 10-22-0-104.
RECEIVING – PORTAGE, Howard 5-47, Colton Wilkie 4-30, Mey-Sin Hollowell 1-7, Myles Sisco 1-5. CHESTERTON, Bullock 5-41, Mitch McElfresh 2-27, Jackson Westmoreland 1-23, Jude Mochen 1-9, Pickering 1-4.
A car accident caused a power outage Friday night in Chesterton,
including at the high school, where the game with Portage was
postponed until Saturday. (Photo by CJ Peters)