FRUITPORT- All eyes were on the Fruitport defense on Friday night, and the boys who are supposed to stop opponents from scoring too much finally passed the test.
The Trojan D, which has allowed a ton of points this season, held visiting Coopersville to a pair of rushing touchdowns, which allowed Fruitport’s always dynamic offense to do its thing in comfort.
The combination resulted in an impressive 37-20 victory over Coopersville, which was a welcome outcome following last week’s wild 60-46 loss to Hudsonville Unity Christian.
Even better was the fact that the win kept the Trojans in the O-K Blue conference title race, and occurred in the first game on Fruitport’s brand new turf field.
“I was really proud of our guys,” said Fruitport coach Nate Smith. “We gave up a score late, but we battled tonight and overcame adversity. We had a couple drives sputter and the guys responded.
“It was a God-send with the storm that we had on Tuesday. We went into the gym and had an hour of mental preparation on how we run our defense. All in all, I am incredibly proud of our defense tonight.”
The Trojans are now 3-2 on the season and 2-1 in O-K Blue play. They will travel to play rival Spring Lake next Friday in the annual “Battle of the Bayou.”
The Trojans opened the scoring on their first possession, on the sixth play of the drive, with Paschal Jolman reaching the end zone from five yards out.
Fruitport failed on the two-point conversion try and had a 6-0 advantage with 7:07 remaining in the first quarter.
The Trojans added to their lead after forcing Coopersville to punt, scoring on a five-yard run by Cody Nash with 22 seconds left in the first quarter.
Fruitport added the two-point conversion on a Paschal Jolman run to increase its advantage to 14-0.
The Broncos got on the scoreboard on their first possession of the second quarter, scoring on a five-play, 58-yard drive. The touchdown came on a 43-yard pass from quarterback Colton Bosch to Ryan Serba to cut the Coopersville’s deficit in half.
The Broncos had a chance to tie the game on their next possession.
In a fourth-down situation, Nash Merkins ran the ball up the middle for a first down and had the end zone in sight, but fumbled just inside the 20-yard line.
The Trojans recovered the ball just before it went out of bounds, took possession, and held on to a 14-7 lead at halftime.
The Trojans had a great opportunity to add to their lead early in the third quarter.
Fruitport appeared to have a touchdown on a 23-yard run by Paschal Jolman, but the Trojans were ticketed with a personal foul penalty on the play.
They kept driving after the penalty and got the ball to the goal line, but Coopersville recovered a fumble around the three-yard line and kept the game close.
Fruitport managed to overcome a penalty-filled drive and extend its lead on its first possession of the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Collin Jolman scored on a 29-yard run and the PAT gave the Trojans a 22-7 advantage with 11:10 left in the fourth.
The Broncos threatened to get back into the game, but Fruitport’s defense stole the show with an interception by Bobby Canfield at the Trojan 10-yard line.
Fruitport had the ball just inside the Bronco 40 after the interception return, then scored three plays later on an 11-yard run by Paschal Jolman.
The Trojans led 30-7 with 7:34 left in the contest.
Coopersville quickly responded with a 75-yard kick return touchdown by Nick Gordan to cut the Trojan lead to 30-14. But Fruitport continued its offensive onslaught with a 43-yard touchdown run by Collin Jolman and extended its advantage to 37-14.
The Broncos closed out the scoring with a 15-yard touchdown completion from Bosch to Serba with 4:34 left in the game.
The Trojans were paced offensively by Collin Jolman, who went 7-for-8 passing for 94 yards while rushing for 162 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns.
Paschal Jolman added 119 yards on the ground on 14 attempts and two touchdowns.
Andrew B. Fielstra caught two passes for 41 yards while Nash had three receptions for 29 yards.