Saline Battles Past Hudsonville in Opener
With a young team, the Saline football squad did just enough to take down Hudsonville 24-15 in the season opener Thursday night.
The Hornets turned the ball over four times, but an opportunistic defense forced four turnovers and blocked a kick to spark Saline to the win.
Hudsonville took the opening kickoff and drove down the field but the Hornet defense held a forced an Eagle field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Saline drove to the Hudsonville 10, when quarterback CJ Carr scrambled and was hit from behind forcing a fumble which the Eagles recovered.
Hudsonville then moved in to Hornets territory when Garrett Baldwin intercepted a deep pass at the Hornets three.
Two plays later, Carr was stripped of the ball once again and the Eagles recovered at the four yard line as the first quarter ended. One play into the second, Hudsonville punced it across, but missed the extra point for a 9-0 lead.
The Hortners faces a 4th an 8 near midfield and decided to gamble and it paid off when Carr connected with Baldwin for 30 yards. The Eagles were called for a person foul for half the distance to the game setting up a first and goal.
Baldwin scored on a reverse, but it was called back due to a hold and on third down Carr dropped back to pass and broke free on a scramble and ran it in from 14 yards out to cut the Eagles lead to 9-8.
After a stop, the Hornets converted a fourth and one and finished the drive with a one-yard quarterback sneak by Carr to make it 14-9.
Hudsonville answered after a long pass put the Eagles deep in Saline territory. They would retake the lead 15-14 with a one-yard touchdown, but a failed two-point conversion attempt kept it a one point game.
Saline would use the two-minute drill to drive into Eagles territory but missed a field goal on the last play of the half.
The Hornets started the second half with a 36-yard field goal to retake the lead 17-15.
Hudsonville stopped another Saline drive with an interception in the endzone to keep it a two point game heading to the fourth.
The Eagles used a flea-flicker pass for a 40-yard gain to move deep into Hornets territory, but the defense tightened forcing a field goal, which was blocked by Baldwin and give Saline the ball back.
Saline was forced to punt, but two plays later Ryan Stein recovered a fumble and the Hornets would drive to the Eagles eight. Hudsonville again stopped the Hornets with another interception in the endzone to keep it 17-15.
The Eagles aaing coughed the ball up with Sam Kreuzer recovering a fumble in Hudsonville territory.
Saline faced third and 14, when Carr rifled a pass to Baldwin for a first down and the Hornets would finish it with a four yard TD run by Ryan Niethammer to make it 24-15.
The Hornets would seal the win when Cade Tousa picked off a pass with under a minute remaining in the game.
Carr finished with 327 yards on 30 of 42 passing on the night. He add two TD runs, but had two INT's and two fumbles.
Roman Laurio caught 10 passes for 139 yards and Dylan Messman three for 33.
Baldwin had a huge night on both sides of the ball. He caught 10 passes for 119 yards, while recording seven tackles and two assists. He also had a blocked kick and an interception on the night.
The Hornets return to action Thursday night when they travel to face a Huron team that many consider that has the best shot at ending the Hornets long SEC Red winning streak.
Photos by Mike Williamson