Quick Strikes Propel Undefeated Trojans to Fourth Victory

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Monday, September 17, 2018, 9:10 am
Mark Meyer

Technically speaking, the East Lansing football team was overwhelmingly outplayed in the first half of Friday night’s game at Huskie Stadium.

While host Portage Northern ran 42 plays from the line of scrimmage in the first half, the Trojans could muster only 13. But of that baker’s dozen, three of them counted for six points each and a fourth (though not considered a statistical offensive play) went for 99 yards and lasted all of about 14 seconds.

To say the least, the Trojans made the most of their offensive opportunities in raising their record to 4-0 with a convincing 30-20 victory over Portage Northern.

Convincing not so much in terms of the final score, but convincing because several players emerged in starring roles after head coach Bill Feraco indicated earlier in the week that they were ready to make some noise:

  • Senior running back/defensive back James Hosey filled in for an injured Kobe Hayward and carried the ball 11 times for 51 yards, caught a 21-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter and played a steady game defensively from his left cornerback position;
  • Sophomore wide receiver Andrel Anthony continued to show why he is a threat to score in the open field after hauling in a perfect strike from quarterback Joe Benbraham and then outrunning the Huskie defense en route to an 80-yard TD;
  • Junior linebacker Marcus Denson’s recovery of a Huskie fumble provided the field position East Lansing needed for its fourth second-quarter touchdown and ultimately a 27-13 lead at halftime;
  • Senior kick returner Justin Brown – Feraco’s “Swiss army knife” because he can do a variety of things well – did what his coach has been hoping to see for the past year and a half: return a kickoff all the way down the field. Brown’s 99-yard return in the second quarter helped answer Portage Northern’s only first half touchdown;
  • Not to be outdone, Benbraham put together his second consecutive strong showing by completing 11 of 15 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns.

“James had plenty of reps in practice (leading up to this game), not with the anticipation of this situation arising, of course,” Feraco said, “but, yes, he came in and took care of the ball, made a couple of nice vision runs and made a great catch in the end zone.”

“It was amazing,” Hosey said, “Coach Javy (Javier Lara), Coach G (Gianni Feraco) and Coach Feraco are always telling me to work harder in practice, so when my number was called I’d be ready,” Hosey said. “I thank my teammates so much. They were there for me, they encouraged me by saying, ‘Let’s go, James’. I’m so thankful for that.”

Hayward, who scored the Trojans’ first touchdown on an electrifying 55-yard sprint through the middle of the Huskie defense, appeared to have suffered a chest or rib injury in the second quarter when falling awkwardly on the ball.

Hayward was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure and underwent a series of X-rays that revealed nothing had been broken.

“At this time he is very sore but feeling much better,” Feraco noted in an email on Saturday. “Time off, rest, and ice will indeed help in his recovery through the weekend.”

The Trojans also played without starters Kaleb Elam (one-game suspension) and Teaghn Hamilton (sore left ankle).

“They were gashing us and, quite frankly, this was not a good tackling performance by us,” Feraco said. “You have to credit their running backs. They ran hard, they were somewhat slippery. We have to shore that up moving forward.”

The Trojans won’t have much time to savor this one as DeWitt prepares to invade Jeff Smith Field at Lynn C. Adams Stadium this Friday on Homecoming night.

“We have to lick up our wounds and get healthy,” Feraco said.

Four wins in four starts just might make the healing process go quickly.


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