Wolves return with a vengeance
Updated: Sep 27, 2020
MICHIGAN CITY -- Two weeks must've felt like two months for Michigan City.
After missing their last two games due to a positive coronavirus test on the coaching staff, the Wolves hit Ames Field like they'd just been let out of a cage.
"I came into this game with a 'dawg' mentality," linebacker Cornell Branch IV said. "Those two weeks, it was heartbreaking because we really wanted to play those two games. When we got back, it was strictly business. We came to practice, we executed, 24-7, offense, defense, special teams. We prepared for everything and just played as a team. Our home opener, playing under the lights, senior night, we were just showing who we are. We're the Wolves."
A frenzied defense and special teams came up with two interceptions, a fumble recovery and two blocked punts, scoring three touchdowns and setting up others in a 48-point first half avalanche that buried Lake Central in a 48-6 Duneland Athletic Conference trouncing.
"It was a tough week," Wolves coach Phil Mason said. "It was a little bit of a grind getting them going. We had to get into 'em. Tuesday wasn't any better. They worked hard. We knew they'd get sore, a little beat up in practice. The defense had blood in their eye. Possessions were limited a bit, but I thought we made the most of them. We felt good about things right away and we just kept it going."
The Wolves (3-1, 1-1) needed less than two months to trigger the landslide. After they blocked an LC punt, Kaydarious Jones angled three yards for the opening score at 10:18. T'Lijah Robinson's 51-yard punt pinned the Indians at their 1 and it took one play for City to double its lead. Luke Neidy's end zone pass was knocked straight up in the air and came down in Branch's waiting hands.
"Both the Dworniks (Hayden and Logan) came through, I saw the ball, and when I see the ball, I just get it," Branch said. "I've always been a defensive player. I've always wanted to score a touchdown. It's the best feeling ever."
City and Branch were far from done. The offense finally got its chance at an extended drive and Gio Laurent burned the Indians (1-5, 0-4) with his feet and legs, scrambling twice for 51 yards before flinging a 17-yard scoring dart to Jones at 10:34 of the second quarter. He added a 9-yard TD run with 6:55 left in the half after a Corey Smith IV pickoff.
"They didn't give us a Saturday game and
we had to have some urgency," Laurent
Cornell Branch IV
said. "It wasn't the best week. We were a little rusty. We came out and stayed as sharp as we can. Sometimes, I get in trouble because I have happy feet. It's not schemed. I might see something, and I take advantage of it. If I don't like what I see, I just use my legs. I might as well make a play. I ran when I was supposed to run and made throws when I was supposed to make throws. I loved it all."
After an LC field goal, MC put up three more scores in the last 3:08 of the half. Laurent and Esau Haynes, who sprinted past Lake Central's secondary all game, snagged two grabs for 41 yards to set up Jonathan Flemings' 15-yard TD run.
"They've got a couple nice players, (Carter Schuster, Armond Earving), but their secondary couldn't deal with us," Mason said.
Eleven seconds later, Kennon Tucker Jr. ripped the ball away from the Indians' Kristrin Alexander and dashed 22 yards to the end zone. Branch capped the deluge at 1:34 with another blocked punt, picking up the rolling ball at the LC 7 and rambling to the house.
"It was all instinct," Branch said. "I did a good swim move on them, got through, stuck my hand out and blocked it. As soon as I saw the ball, I ran right to it, scoop and score. I didn't want to just fall on it. You've got to score. That was a great feeling. I know teams were probably thinking, yeah, they got two weeks off, they're probably not coming back. We came back and put up 48 points on the board. It's senior night. We had to get this win for our seniors. It's a brotherhood, it's like a family here. I do something, it impacts the whole team."
Derek Baldin's second field goal for the Indians accounted for the only scoring of a second half with a running clock.
"I told the kids we're going to treat (the second half) like a practice so don't think we're just laying down here. We need to play, we need to get some work," Mason said.
Mason downplayed last season's ugly loss at Lake Central, where the Wolves had to return for a 10 a.m. start on Saturday after the game was postponed by a heavy storm shortly before the scheduled start time the night before.
Laurent remembered it for a different reason -- his five interceptions.
"This game has been on my mind. Last year, I had a horrible game," he said. "I came into this game with a chip on my shoulder. I wanted to prove something."
Laurent ran for 51 yards and threw for 151 with Haynes and freshman Jaiden Hart both going over 70 yards receiving.
"It's like God's gift to us. It's crazy to have that many skilled guys from this side to that side of the ball and in the backfield," Laurent said. "I've never played with so many. We've got a great O line. My main focus is just to get my guys the ball."
Mason was also happy with the progress of the offensive line, a key element in the success of City's skill players.
"The overall improvement of the offensive line has been just tremendous," he said. "I credit that to Boz (Mike Bauswell) coaching them rather than me. I don't have the patience like I used to. It was a nice night. It was great for our seniors to get out here and get a win. Our first home game, what week is it? Six? That's just unbelievable. The hardest thing is you just don't know what each day is going to bring. Dealing with all this craziness, it's just nice to be back with our guys coaching football. It was more just, we get to play football."
Michigan City 48, Lake Central 6
SCORING BY QUARTERS
Lake Central 0 3 3 0 -- 6
Michigan City 14 34 0 0 -- 48
MC -- Kaydarious Jones 3 run (Andrew Oleksuik kick), 10:18
MC -- Cornell Branch IV INT in end zone (Oleksiuk kick), 4:31
MC -- Jones 17 pass from Gio Laurent (Oleksiuk kick), 10:34
MC -- Laurent 9 run (kick blocked), 6:55
LC -- Derek Baldin 37 FG, 5:48
MC -- Jonathan Flemings 15 run (Oleksiuk kick), 3:08
MC -- Kennon Tucker Jr. 22 fumble return (Oleksiuk kick), 2:57
MC -- Branch 7 blocked punt return (Oleksiuk kick), 1:34
LC -- Baldin 25 FG, 2:37
First Downs: Lake Central 2, Michigan City 11
Rushing: Lake Central 21-66, Michigan City 24-139
Passing: Lake Central 3-12-2, Michigan City 13-19-1
Passing Yards: Lake Central 42, Michigan City 182
Total Yards: Lake Central 108, Michigan City 321
Penalties-Yards: Lake Central 2-8, Michigan City 2-15
Fumbles-Lost: Lake Central 1-1, Michigan City 3-0
Punts-Avg.: Lake Central 2-36.0, Michigan City 2-38.5
Rushing: Lake Central -- Max Creasbaum 10-56, Ben Bacso 9-16, Luke Neidy 1-(-2), Kristrin Alexander 1-(-2), Tony Bartolomeo 1-(-5); Michigan City -- Laurent 6-51, Flemings 9-48, Racion Anderson 7-37, Jones 1-3, Bush 1-0.
Passing: Lake Central -- Neidy 3-12-2-42; Michigan City -- Laurent 11-17-1-148, Tyler Bush 2-2-0-34.
Receiving: Lake Central -- Diego Garcia 1-41, Bartolomeo 2-1; Michigan City -- Esau Haynes 5-72, Jaiden Bush 4-71, Jones 2-29, Treylen Simmons 2-10.