The Kalamazoo United Titans have started the 2017 football season with back-to-back wins over 2016 playoff teams, winning at Gobles 49-14 on Thursday evening. Like in their week one victory over Saugatuck, junior quarterback Eric Wenzel threw five touchdown passes, putting him already more than halfway to his 2016 total of 19.
United began with the ball and went 77 yards for an opening drive score, 68 yards of which came on passes from Wenzel to Christian Bartholomew. They scored off a 6-yard rushing touchdown from Lawrence Pelkey. The Gobles Tigers answered on their 59-yard opening drive, scoring on a 19-yard Hunter Underwood rush. This put the score at 6-6, as United missed their extra-point kick and Gobles was denied on a two-point conversion.
The Titans took their second drive to the end zone as well, capping off an eight-play, 52-yard drive with a 5-yard pass from Wenzel to Andrew Widger. The two-point conversion succeeded with a pass to Bartholomew, pushing the Titans to a 14-6 lead late in the first quarter. After forcing a three-and-out, the Titans made it 3-3 on scoring drives with a 30-yard TD pass to Heath Baldwin.
Gobles tried a fake punt on their next series and failed, but United couldn’t make use of the short field, missing a 40-yard field goal. The Tigers were denied again and the Titans started their next drive 40 yards from the goal line. Pelkey got 39 of those yards on the first play, although he was injured on the run and didn’t return. A 1-yard fade pass to Baldwin gave United a 28-7 advantage .
The Tigers would fight back before halftime, using the final four minutes for a nine-play, 69-yard scoring drive. An Andrew Kimble to Tyler Stedman 24-yard touchdown pass with 41 seconds remaining, plus a two-point conversion rush by Travis Chandler, put Gobles back within two scores, 28-14. Gobles began with the ball in the third as well, but the Tigers were held to one first down for the entire second half, seeing three punts and two drives ending in a turnover on downs.
United’s opening third quarter drive finished with a 15-yard TD pass to Widger. Gobles had one last hope late in the third with a Stedman interception (the game’s lone turnover) starting them off in the red zone, but a turnover on downs sealed their fate. The Titans scored twice more in the fourth quarter, on an 11-yard pass to Bartholomew and a 26-yard rush by Brenden Warner.
Unofficially, Eric Wenzel had 249 passing yards, going 20-35 with five touchdowns and one interception. In only two quarters of work, Pelkey gained 104 rushing yards on 12 attempts. Warner added 80 off another 12 attempts. Bartholomew led all receivers with 107 yards on six catches and one touchdown. Gobles’ Kimble was 3-6 passing for 46 yards and one score. Hunter Underwood was their top rusher at 56 yards, one ahead of Chandler’s 55.
Kalamazoo United improves to 2-0 and returns home Friday to face Lawton, another 2016 playoff qualifier. Gobles falls to 0-2 with a trip to Constantine in week three. Listen back to Thursday’s game below: