By Steve Gunn and Dave Hart

MUSKEGON – After winning their season opener by 73 points, West Michigan Ironmen Coach Ty Lynk promised that the second game, against the Chicago Blitz, would be more challenging.

He turned out to be right.

Luckily the Ironmen were able to build a 28-point lead before the Blitz woke up, and that proved to be the difference in a 68-41 West Michigan victory on Saturday night at L.C. Walker Arena.

The Ironmen are now 3-0 on the season. They’ve only played two games, but were awarded a victory by Midwest Professional Indoor Football when their game was cancelled last week due to a forfeit.

Ronald Johnson runs the ball upfield for West Michigan. Photo/Mitchell Dixon MSD Photography

They now have a bye week before hosting the Midway Marauders on April 7.

“Our offense against their defense made some plays, but it wasn’t like we were able to run them off the field,” said Ironmen assistant coach Brent White, who was filling in for Lynk while he attended to family business.

“All-in-all, I was happy with what we did, happy to be challenged, and happy to be able to go in the film room with something to prepare with, so we can grow as a team.”

The Ironmen got off to a big start, leaving everyone in the building wondering if they were headed for another one-sided victory.

Chicago had the ball on the opening possession, but the Ironmen scored first when Aaron Doriot picked off a  pass at the Blitz 12-yard line and returned it 38 yards for a pick-six touchdown.

Ironmen quarterback Alex Carder makes the pass from the backfield. Photo/Mitchell Dixon MSD Photography

The Blitz had trouble handling the ensuing kickoff, and West Michigan’s Antonio Penn recovered the ball on the Chicago 3. Three plays later Dakota Smith scored on a two-yard run, and the Ironmen ended up with a 14-0 lead after one quarter.

The Ironmen added two more scores – on a 4-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Alex Carder to Carrington Thompson and a 16-yard scoring strike from Carder to Corey Johnson – to take a 28-0 lead with about four minutes left in the second quarter.

Chicago scored two late touchdowns in the second quarter, and the Ironmen led 28-14 at halftime.

The second half was a touchdown-fest, with the Ironmen outscoring the Blitz 40-27 and holding on for the win.

Carder completed 15 of 23 passes for 148 yards and four touchdowns.

Carrington Thompson had seven receptions for 55 yards and three touchdowns while Corey Johnson had five catches for 67 yards and one touchdown.

Smith had nine carries for 31 yards and two touchdowns.

Brian Foy led the Ironmen defense with seven tackles while Rony Nelson and Antonio Penn each had six. Doriot snagged two interceptions.

Game summary

First quarter

WM 10:23 – Aaron Doriot 38-yard interception return (Alex Carder kick) WM-7 Chi-0

WM 7:32 – Dakota Smith 2-yard run (Alex Carder kick) WM-14 Chi-0

Second quarter

WM 10:02 – Carrington Thompson Sr. 4-yard catch from Alex Carder (Alex Carder kick) WM-21 Chi-0

WM 4:21- Corey Johnson 16-yard catch from Alex Carder (Alex Carder kick) WM-28 Chi-0

CHICAGO 1:17- Marcus Lewis 29-yard catch from Tommy Kudyba (Mike O’Brien kick) WM-28 Chi-7

CHICAGO :03.2 – Marcus Lewis 29-yard catch from Tommy Kudyba (Mike O’Brien kick) WM-28 Chi-14

Third quarter

WM 11:00 – Alex Carder 1-yard run (Alex Carder kick) WM-35 Chi-14

CHICAGO 10:26 – Joshua Hampton 21-yard catch from Tommy Kudyba (kick failed) WM-35 Chi-20

WM 5:13 – Dakota Smith 16-yard run (Alex Carder kick) WM-42 Chi-20

CHICAGO 2:49 – Kerry Lewis 2-yard run (Mike O’Brien kick) WM-42 Chi-27

WM 1:06 – Carrington Thompson Sr. 4-yard catch from Alex Carder (kick failed) WM-48 Chi-27

Fourth quarter

WM 13:11- Carrington Thompson Sr. 20-yard catch from Alex Carder (kick failed) WM-54 Chi-27

CHICAGO 10:07- Marcus Lewis 7-yard catch from Tommy Kudyba (kick failed) WM-54 Chi-33

WM 9:55 – Carrington Thompson Sr. 50-yard kick return (Alex Carder kick) WM-61 Chi-33

CHICAGO 7:34 – Marcus Lewis 33-yard catch from Tommy Kudyba (2-point good) WM-61 Chi-41

WM 6:36 – Rony Nelson 7-yard kick return (Alex Carder kick) WM-68 Chi-41