Coming off a week where La Porte scuffled to rush the ball effectively at times, the Slicers established the run and never relented in Friday's 31-14 win over Lake Central.
They averaged 5.6 yards per carry, a full yard more than the previous contest versus Chesterton, and four players finished with at least 60 yards on the ground as the team earned an impressive 364 total rushing yards.
Jeremiah Ruiz led the charge with 154 yards on a whopping 28 attempts, good for a 5.5 yards-per-carry average. Quarterback Collin Bergquist followed with 73 yards on 15 attempts, while Isaac Alexander paced La Porte with a 9.4 yards-per-carry average, recording 66 yards. Sophomore Jayden Parkes also had some productive rushes and added 60 yards on 12 attempts.
"Just more practice, just more practice," LP coach Jeremy Lowery said. "We didn't run anything different than we ran the first four weeks, we just got better at it. This team can't get enough reps right now."
La Porte didn't complete a pass Friday, but that didn't matter given the rushing attack in its flexbone offense.
“Our running backs figured out what holes to hit,” Ruiz said. “Linemen sticking blocks. Everybody just doing the right assignment.”
The stalwart rush game also allowed the Slicers to decisively control time of possession, 29:49 to 18:11, helping keep the ball away from the Indians' offense and wear down their defense.
Milestone in the making: The victory over Lake Central also marked coach Lowery's first win at La Porte.
“It's special,” Lowery said. “No doubt, it's special. But what's more special is just this coaching staff, this group of players, to come on Senior Night, this is the first group that's going to change it for us. That's what we talked about before the game. This is going to be the first of many.”
Lowery finished with a 21-4 record in two seasons at Paoli before the Slicers stumbled out of the gates with an 0-4 mark to begin this season.
Room to improve: Despite notching its first win of the campaign, La Porte had a decent number of mistakes, committing two turnovers and fumbling the ball four times. It was still an improvement from previous weeks.
"We didn't have as many self-inflicted wounds tonight," Lowery added. "We still had a few, but not as many."
Mr. 500: New Prairie coach Russ Radtke coached the 500th game of his career Friday night, leading his team to a tough-fought 28-27 victory over Mishawaka. The Cavemen run a triple-option offense that Radtke coaches for his freshman and junior varsity teams, making it easier for him and his team to prepare for a unique offense. Friday was a battle of different, prolific rushing attacks that are tough to stop. Radtke wasn't pleased that he couldn't force Mishawaka to punt once, but was pleased his team could come up with a stop on a two-point conversion late in the game to seal a Cougars victory.
Got 'em cornered: Thanks to some strategic kickoff placement and probably some sketchy decision-making on returns, Merrillville had Michigan City consistently starting possessions in the shadow of their goal posts. The Wolves began four drives at the 20 and others at the 1, 5 and 18, with the Pirates kicking the ball out of bounds the other time. "When the kicker pins them in the corner and they're trying to return it across the field, we did a phenomenal job of covering and they were starting inside the 20 practically every time," Merrillville coach Brad Seiss said. "It just didn't help us the first time." That's when Gio Laurent and Kaydarious Jones teamed on a 96-yard scoring pass for the Wolves' only points.
-- compiled by Zack Eldridge, Jack Parodi and Jim Peters