By Shawn Liverance
Local Sports Journal
The Shelby football team didn’t want a repeat of its first-half performance against Grant last week.
The Tigers trailed Grant in their season-opening game at halftime and used that as motivation in their West Michigan Conference opener against host North Muskegon on Friday night.
Shelby jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead against the Norsemen and held on for a 28-15 victory.
“We wanted to come out sharp in the first half tonight,” Shelby coach Lorenzo Rodriguez said. “We were sluggish last week in the first half and that was our focus tonight.”
Behind quarterback Spencer Peters, the Tigers rolled up over 200 first-half yards.
“I thought we came out sharp on offense,” Peters said. “We executed our offense and I thought our defense played very well in the first half.”
Peters came out sharp in leading the Tigers on a 14-play, 80-yard scoring drive to open the game.
Peters was 3-of-4 on the drive for 54 yards and culminated the drive with a 12-yard scoring strike to Brody Lee.
Ben Schroeder stopped NM’s opening drive by recovering a fumble at the Tigers’ 29-yard line and Peters once again took over.
The senior quarterback led Shelby 71 yards on six plays with the final play of the drive covering 31 yards on a touchdown pass to Devin Mussell.
David Guerra’s interception set up Shelby’s final score of the half, which came on Mussell’s 11-yard scoring run.
“I thought both sides of the ball were clicking, especially in that first half,” Rodriguez said. “We had to make some adjustments on offense as a couple of our guys had the flu. Once we get them back I think our offense will really start clicking.”
Peters, who finished 16-of-29 passing for 197 yards and two scores, also rushed for 24 yards on seven carries.
“Our wideouts were getting open and I had plenty of time,” Peters said. “Our offensive line did a great job. I thought their play was the best part of our game tonight.”
Nathan Lentz, who scored on an 18-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter, led a solid Shelby rushing attack that totaled nearly 200 yards on the ground.
Lentz finished with 110 yards rushing, Forrest Courtright gained 64 yards and Mussell added 40 yards on the ground.
“We kind of worked on a few things in the second half,” Rodriguez said. “I thought in the first half we were sharp and only missed a couple of things.”
North Muskegon was hurt in the opening half by two turnovers and a couple of costly penalties.
The Norsemen did cut the lead to 21-7 late in the third quarter on Adrian Anderson’s 20-yard touchdown run.
NM added the game’s final score when Anderson connected with Sam Powell on a 25-yard scoring pass with 2:53 left in the fourth quarter.
“We are not happy we didn’t win the game,” North Muskegon coach Mike Belmonte said. “We have to play better and that starts with practicing better. It is all about us.”
Anderson finished 6-of-10 passing for 65 yards for the Norsemen, Logan Waller rushed 10 times for 57 yards and Powell caught three passes for 58 yards.
Defensively, the Norsemen were led by Chase Cooke’s seven tackles and six each by Eric Vasquez and Christian Brower.
NM’s Jack Gautraud intercepted his third pass of the season just before halftime.
“We have to be better on third-down situations,” Belmonte said. “I thought Adrian played better, especially in the second half and made some plays as did our linebackers and Christian Brower played very well. We still have lots of work to do.”
North Muskegon will look to get in the win column next week when it hosts Hart.
The Tigers mean while have a big WMC game next week when they travel to Whitehall in a battle of 1-0 teams in the conference.
“We have beat them the last two years,” Rodriguez said. “We are going to have to play our ‘A’ game against them that is for sure.”