Playing in a steady, cold rain, Napoleon scored two second-quarter touchdowns and the defense did the rest, as the Wildcats held off Southview for a 14-7 Northern Lakes League victory Friday at Buckenmeyer Stadium.
The win sets up a battle for the NLL title next week when undefeated and state-ranked Anthony Wayne invades Morley’s Field.
With the wet conditions, the Wildcats returned to the running game against Southview. Napoleon carried the ball 54 times and rushed for 231 yards, led by Chasten Wilde with 137 yards on 20 carries.
Jarrett Gerdeman led the team in carries with 28 totes for 92 yards.
“It was a battle of attrition,” said Napoleon coach Tory Strock of the win. “Sometimes games come down to match-ups, and that’s always a tough match up for us with the size of their line. It’s hard to get push on them and hard to stop them from pushing you.
“I told our kids at the end, we’re not going to apologize for how it happened,” continued Strock. “The bottom line is it happened and we got win number six and are 5-0 in the league, and we set the table for next week.”
Napoleon scored first, completing a long drive that started at the end of the first period. Gerdeman capped the 14-play, 82-yard drive with an 11-yard scoring run.
Two possessions later, the Wildcats struck again.
This time quarterback Andrew Warncke, who was 3 of 7 passing for 79 yards in the game, connected with tight end Jacob Debbe for a 29-yard touchdown. The play came on fourth-and-11 and capped a 10-play, 87-yard drive with just 32 seconds remaining before halftime.
“That is a play we used to run, but we have gotten away from it,” said Strock. “They (Southview) were bracketing Logan (Shepard) and they had one safety out there. We just put Debbe out into space and that was a huge play for us.”
Southview scored on its first possession of the second half, driving 64 yards in 16 plays and taking more than seven minutes off the clock.
Quarterback Brayton Schmidt carried in on third down from the 1-yard line for the Cougars score.
From that point it was Napoleon’s defense that shined, allowing the Cougars just one third down over their final three possessions of the game.
“The credit goes to the defense,” said Strock.
Napoleon held Southview to 94 yards rushing and 158 yards of total offense. Nathan Taylor, who platooned with Schmidt at quarterback, led the Cougars with 40 yards on the ground.
Napoleon closed the game with Gerdeman carrying the ball three times to get the necessary first down to run out the clock.
Strock said he was not concerned about giving the ball to the sophomore back, despite fumbling twice during the game.
“Sometimes when someone fumbles the ball I will trust him more in those situations because I know he doesn’t want to do it again,” said the Napoleon coach.
Napoleon (6-2 overall and 5-0 in the NLL) welcomes Anthony Wayne (8-0, 5-0) Friday.