NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WOOD) — With the first quarter winding down and West Ottawa moving toward the goal line, Mona Shores sacked quarterback Isaac VanDyke on fourth down. It was the first of five times the Panthers had a series end in the red zone without scoring.
“That was a huge stop. We ended up making it 14-0 when it could have been 6-7,” Mona Shores coach Matt Koziak said of the turnover on downs.
Mona Shores used those stops to build momentum, eventually pulling away from West Ottawa Thursday night to win the season opener 35-12.
“Out of the 22 starters from last year, we had one returning tonight,” Koziak said. “For a team that hadn’t played varsity football before, we looked all right.”
Quarterback Tristan Robbins threw his first varsity touchdown midway through the first quarter when he found Keyshawn Summerville for a 43-yard score to take a 6-0 lead.
After the fourth-down sack, the Sailors marched down the field, quickly helped by a 47-yard connection from Robbins to Summerville. Marcus Collins capped off the drive with the first of his three rushing touchdowns, giving Mona Shores a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.
West Ottawa tightened the game up early in the second half. VanDyke found Xavier Wade for a 54-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 14-6.
Mona Shores answered later in the third quarter with a two-play, 46-yard drive. A 36-yard touchdown pass to Emari Hardy gave the Sailors a 21-6 lead.
Collins added two 5-yard touchdown runs in the fourth quarter — both of which ended with spectacular dives into the end zone.
The Panthers added a late 40-yard touchdown run by Seankesse Townsend to make the final score 35-12.
Thursday was the first start for Sailors quarterback Robbins. He was in a battle for the starting job with Drew Switzer, but Switzer broke his collarbone in a scrimmage last week.
Robbins, who played on the junior varsity team last year, had two touchdown passes and two interceptions. One of those interceptions was on a jump ball in the end zone. West Ottawa’s Isaac Laman made a great play to rip the ball away from Summerville.
With an inexperienced quarterback, Koziak said he told Collins before the game he would have to carry the load.
“[Collins] is a senior. He had the most experience on the offensive side,” Koziak said. “We knew with a young quarterback, we had to get that horse going, and he did a great job.”
After the game, Koziak was critical of his team’s mistakes — including penalties, turnovers and missed tackles. It will be an important week of practice as the Sailors get ready to host Zeeland West next Thursday.
“We’ll have to play a lot better to win,” Koziak said.
West Ottawa will continue its early-season road trip next week, traveling to Forest Hills Central on Thursday.