EATON TWP. — Lorain County coach Terry Murray, fresh off his team’s season-opening loss to the defending champion Ohio Golden Knights, took the field Sunday without his starting quarterback and kicker.
Turns out all he really needed was his defensive line.
The Nightmares’ front four controlled the line of scrimmage all evening, getting six sacks and forcing two of its opponent’s four fumbles in a 26-0 win over the Jackson Silverhawks at Ross Field in Adelsberg Stadium.
Starting quarterback Cody Schuster missed the game with a rib injury he suffered in the first series of the Nightmares’ season opener last week.
Kicker Tim Jones, who connected on a pair of field goals in last week’s loss, including a 47-yarder, missed the game for a wedding.
But former Admiral King quarterback Jorge Adams played a solid game in place of Schuster, completing 16 of 31 passes for 209 yards and four touchdowns against just one interception.
“I came in nervous,” he said. “This was the first time in seven years that I’ve played, but after awhile I got real comfortable with the guys and started playing. I hurt my left hand in the first quarter and was a little shaky, but once I got used to the linemen blocking it was just like at practice.”
Before the game, the Nightmares coaching staff told Adams to play his game, not Schuster’s.
“It was very important,” Adams said of the advice. “I just wanted to play some football because I love the game. I came out here prepared mentally and physically, and playing behind Cody has helped me a lot. He’s very intelligent about the game and I’ve learned a lot from him. From my perspective, watching him on the field, I’ve learned so much. He helps me on the sidelines, also.”
The Nightmares (1-1) scored on their opening drive when Adams found Sherman Thomas behind the defense and hit him for a 44-yard touchdown.
The game remained 7-0 through halftime and into the third quarter. Lorain County finally got some breathing room when Adams found Thomas again, this time from 42 yards out. Thomas went up and wrestled the ball away from Silverhawks safety A.J. Wadian and cornerback Delshawn Simpson.
Thomas has been a pleasant surprise for the Nightmares. A defensive back in college at Division II Ashland, Thomas moved to receiver in training camp.
He had five catches for 130 yards and a pair of touchdowns Sunday and is second on the team in receptions on the year with 11 and first in receiving yards (236) and touchdowns (three).
“Early on he was just settling in, but you can see what an athlete he is,” Murray said of Thomas. “By the end of the year we’re going to see even better things out of him.”
Lorain County added late touchdown receptions by Adam Herbert (11 yards) and Tim Vance (1 yard).
The Nightmares’ defense, however, was the story. It shut out Jackson despite the Silverhawks (1-1) enjoying good field position most of the night.
The Lorain County defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage. Defensive tackle Mitch Tulk had three sacks and a pair of tackles for losses. Defensive end Sonny Hazelwood had a pair of sacks and made three stops behind the line of scrimmage.
Defensive tackle Stephen Fejedelem had 1½ sacks, forced a fumble and blocked a punt. He also was in Jackson quarterback Gabriel Thomas’ face, forcing him to throw a pass up for grabs that was intercepted by Nick Rogerson.
“The defensive line is phenomenal,” Murray said. “That’s the heart of our defense. There are three All-American players on that defensive line. Right now that unit is going to be hard to handle for anyone.
The defense is still settling in. We have a lot of new players and the chemistry isn’t quite there, but the longer we play together the more solid we’re going to be.”
Silverhawks coach Glenn Lane thought his team left some points on the field, despite the dominance of the Nightmares defense.
“Our offense couldn’t produce anything,” he said. “You can’t get down to the 8-yard line and not score a touchdown. We had a lot of mental errors on offense and we couldn’t move. If we could have moved (the ball) it was a 28-26 game. You can’t leave your defense on the field for that long and expect to win the ball game.”
Lorain County hosts the undefeated Western Pennsylvania Wildcats on Saturday. Murray is not sure if Schuster will be back under center.
“We’re hoping,” he said. “We didn’t let him even throw the ball today so we’re trying to get him as much rest as we can. ”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.