Fifth-ranked Badgers continue undefeated roll
By John Hales
Sept. 28, 2017
HIALEAH. Florida—Here’s a challenge: Choose just one play that you would highlight if you were called to, say, write a news article about the Snow College Badgers’ win against the ASA Miami Silver Storm.
Heaven knows there were plenty to choose from along the way to Snow’s 58-36 defeat of ASA Miami on Saturday, Sept. 26.
But then, why should this, the fifth game of the season, have been any different than all the others?
“Our guys the whole year have played with outstanding effort,” said Snow head coach Paul Peterson on Monday.
You could choose the first sack of the game, early on, by Isaac Fotu to help the Badgers force the Silver Storm to two consecutive three-and-outs on Miami’s first two possessions. But then Fotu had another sack and three tackles-for-loss during the course of the game.
You could choose running back D’Arman Notoa’s explosive play.
Oh, “Which one?” you ask.
Notoa started out his first play of the game (Snow’s third offensive play of the game) with an 18-yard carry on a replayed second down that more than made up for a Badger holding penalty on the original down.
Notoa rushed—are you ready for this?—for 283 yards on the game. Seven of his 20 carries were of the explosive variety (12 yards or more). His two biggest—for 70 yards (in the second quarter) and dodging and breaking tackles throughout, and for 72 yards (in the fourth)—weren’t bigger because, well, you quit running once you reach the end zone.
Which of those two touchdown plays would you choose? Do two yards make a bigger play?
And, by the way, Notoa the running back also played Notoa the receiver on one 40-yard play.
Then there was defensive back Colton Bennion’s break-up of an end-zone pass, thus preventing a Silver Storm touchdown. While a great play in its own right, however, it was effectually negated when Miami scored on the very next play.
Or you might consider tight end Riley Nebeker’s 66-yard reception for touchdown. That one pay accounted for two-thirds of his total, and team-leading, 99 yards receiving.
Don’t forget about defensive back Keith Edwards’ interception of a 40-yard pass in the second quarter. That, however, simply delayed a Miami touchdown when, by that time, Snow was beginning to have a bit of a lull. A skewampus punt on the resulting drive gave Miami good field position that the Silver Storm capitalized on for six points with 30 seconds to go in the first half.
But that was followed by a play for our particular consideration—a play that led KMTI sports announcer to proclaim, “It’s fireworks in Florida.”
On the kickoff with half a minute to go in the half, wide receiver Leon Morgan returned the ball the whole way—95 yards for a touchdown.
Morgan’s beginning to make a habit of that kind of thing, doing something of its sort at least once a game, or so it seems. Against Miami, he ran 212 yards on kickoff returns alone.
Anyone who paid attention to the game will note that we left out one. Well, two, but made by the same guy.
That’s because Sterling-native wide receiver Derek Wright was saved for last. All other things being more-or-less equal, the consideration to “go local” trumped; and Wright’s two big plays served as bookends between which the rest of the game was played.
Wide-receiver Wright caught a 14-yard pass during Snow’s first possession. Only 14 yards, yes, but it was in a go-for-it fourth-and-nine situation. The successful catch set things up for Snow’s first touchdown on the very next play of the game, scored by Notoa.
It was Snow’s only successful fourth-down conversion out of three attempts through the game.
On the other side of the timeclock, at about five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Wright recovered a blocked Miami punt from the end zone (we should give big-play mention to defensive back Kalen McGee for the punt-block), thus scoring the final touchdown for Snow.
Perhaps save the big-play choosing for a game with fewer of them. But the way the Badgers are playing, that may be hard to do this year.
“They’re living up to expectations,” coach Peterson said. “They’re earning this.”
The Badgers earned themselves a national No. 5 ranking last week. It wouldn’t be surprising if they improve on that after so soundly beating the number-two scoring team in the nation.
The Silver Storm held that spot by scoring an average of 53 points per game prior to meeting Snow. The Badgers held them to 36.
Snow, on the other hand, held the leading spot in that statistic. And the Badgers held true to it against Miami, matching exactly the 58-points-per-game they have average so far in the season.