Shelbyville Ram defense was all over Meridian star quarterback Jacob Jones from the Hawks first snap. Jones made some plays, but Shelby denied him a huge game and secured an impressive win, 37-21.
The number one goal of the Rams was to stop Jones and they did that. The Ram defense pinned their ears back and lived in the Hawk backfield all night. Shelbyville led 37-7 at the start of the 4th quarter and the reserves came in the game. Meridian scored twice to make the score look more respectable than it really was.
Both teams came in 3-3 overall with a slight edge to the Rams in how they did against common opponents. That slight edge was magnified on Friday by the play of the Ram defense.
Shelby had several tackles for loss, including multiple sacks. They had 9 tackles for loss totaling 60 yards.
Karson Johnson had 3 tackles for loss for 27 yards. Bryce Matthews had 3 tackles for loss for 13 and Grant Mose had one tackle for loss for 12 yards. Mose had a safety Brody SMith had a tackle for loss for 6 yards and Josh Agin had a tackle for loss for 2 yards. The Ram defense added an interception.
The Rams took the opening kick-off and had a 5:00 drive that ended with quarterback Kentrell Beck hitting Max Beyers on a 10-yard TD pass. The extra-point missed, but Shelby drew first blood and was up 6-0.
The Rams pressured and sacked Meridian during their first possession and the Hawks had to punt. Shelby’s second possession ended in a punt due to holding penalties. The Rams punted.
The Hawks answered with a score in the 2nd quarter. They capped a drive with a 7 yard run. The kick was good and Meridian had the lead with 7:31 left in the half, 7-6.
Shelbyville’s next drive had a long beck run. He was forced out at the 1 yard line. Beck finished the possession with a 1 yard TD run. The 2-point conversion failed, but Shelby was ahead with 3:28 left in the half, 12-7.
The Hawks had to punt on their next possession. The Rams got a return and Beck was able to move the ball. They got to the Meridian 15 yard line. A sure touchdown pass went through a receiver’s hands.
On 3rd down with 35 seconds left, Beck scrambled and maneuvered his way through the defense for a 15 yard TD run with 33 seconds remaining in the half. The 2-point pass failed, being intercepted, but Shelby led at the break, 18-7.
The Rams were winning the battle of the line and their pressure on Jones was disrupting what the Hawks wanted to do. If not for a few big plays by Jones the Hawks were completely flummoxed.
On the last kickoff of the half, Meridian got a good return and Josh Agin had a TD-saving tackle. They almost had a big play, but again a TD-saving tackle was made, this time by a pursuing, 285-pound lineman, Grant Mose.
With 12 seconds from the Ram 40, Karson Johnson made a huge sack to end the half, accurately summing up the Rams’ play in the first two quarters.
The Hawks got another good return to start the 2nd half, but a pitch play lost yardage and Meridian went 3 and out and punted to the Ram 22 yard line.
On the Rams’ first play of the 2nd half, Beck ran 78 yards for a touchdown. Vitale’s extra-point was good and at 9:37 of the 3rd its was 24-7.
The ensuing kick-off ended with the ball at the Hawk 24 and Jones coming in limping. On the second play of the drive, Johnson again knifed in to get Jones on an 8 yard loss. Jones tried a pass on the next play and found himself on the ground again.
A shanked punt gave the Rams the ball on the Meridian 38 yard line. After a pass was dropped, beck ran for a 1st down. Another holding penalty canceled that gain. Hatfield ran for 11 yards.
Beck then found Colten Reed on a pass play and he went 36 yards for the score. Shelbyville scored twice in 3:00. Vitale’s extra-point was good. With 6:27 in the 3rd, Shelby was up, 32-7.
Meridian did not get a good return on the next kickoff and Jones was sacked on the first play. The next pass went through a receivers hands and Max Beyers snagged it out of the air. He returned it to the Meridian 7 yard line.
Beck was thrown for a loss, then threw an incomplete pass. A delay of game penalty and another incomplete pass on a wide-open receiver made it 4th and 18 at the 25.
Vitale came in for a 35-yard field goal try. Beyers held and Vitale put it through the uprights for a 28-point Ram advantage with 3:42 left in the 3rd, 35-7.
On the ensuing kickoff, Agin made another TD-saving tackle. On the next play Agin threw the Hawk runner for a loss. Meridian had to punt again. Rope Hatfield returned the punt 8 yards. He ran for 4 more then ran for 43 yards. But a personal foul penalty negated it.
Nevermind, Hatfield ran again, this time for 18 yards to the Hawk 45. Beck tried a long pass and it was picked off at the Hawk 12. Jones went to receive the snap on the first play of their drive and Mose ran him down for a safety.
The defense made the final Ram score of the night just 14 seconds into the 4th quarter, a fitting tribute to their aggressive play in the game, 37-7.
Meridian had to kickoff and Hatfield had a 20-yard punt return after the safety. The 2nd string offense came in for the Rams. The Hawks made some hay against the Shelby reserves in the 4th.
Shelby had to punt. Meridian got the ball and Jones ran for 37 yards. But like in the first half, the big play was for naught. A procedure call and an incomplete pass on 4t and 18 gave the ball to the Rams.
Jordan Winings picked up a Ram 1st down. Another Ram holding penalty set them back. An incomplete pass and a recvered fumble made it 3rd and long. Another fumble was recovered and Shelby punted. A good return came to the Ram 15.
Three plays later Jones ran the ball in from 11 yards out. The 2-point try was good with 3:35 left in the game, 37-15.
An onside kick was covered at the Ram 35, but Shelby went nowhere and had to punt. Jones connected with Clapp of a 55 yard TD pass play. The kick failed and with 1:50 in the game, Meridian trailed, 37-21.
The ensuing kick was deep and Beck returned it from inside the 5 all the way to the Hawk 30, a 70-yard return. Back-up QB Max Beyers took a knee to end the game.
Shelbyville (4-3, 3-2 CIC) plays at Tuscola on Friday. A win would make them playoff eligible.
Shelbyville 37, Meridian 21
1st-(S) Beck 10 yd pass to Beyers, kick failed, 6-0
2nd-(M) Jones 7 yd run, kick good, 6-7
2nd-(S) Beck 1 yd run, run failed, 12-7
2nd-(S) Beck 15 yd run, conv. failed, 18-7
3rd- (S) Beck 78 yd run, kick good, 25-7
3rd-(S) Beck 36 yd pass to Reed, kick good, 32-7
3rd-(S) Vitale 34 yd field goal, 35-7
3rd-(S) Mose safety, 37-7
4th-(M) Jones 11 yd run, run good, 37-15
4th-(M) Jones 55 yd pass to Clapp, kick failed, 37-21
Ram stats: OFFENSE 375 yds, 5 TDs, FG; RUSHING -30 for 191 yds; Beck 10 for 129 yds, 3 TDs; Hatfield 10 for 57 yds; Beyers 4 for -13 yds; Wining 6 for 18 yds; PASSING-Beck 16 of 25, 184 yds, 2 TDs, INT; RECEIVING-Reed 4 for 76 yds, TD; Beyers 6 for 49 yds, TD; Hatfield 5 for 44 yds; FIELD GOAL- Vitale; XTRA-PT-Vitale 2 for 3; TACKLES-K Johnson 6 (6 solo/0 assists), 3 for loss -27 yds; Agin 5 (5/0), 1 for loss -2; Matthews 4 (3/1), 3 for loss -13; Mose 4 (3/1), 1 for loss -12; Bro Smith 3 (2/1), 1 for loss -6; Hatfield 4 (2/2); Reed 3 (3/0); Lynch 2 92/0); Bray Smith 2 (2/0); Menis 2 (2/0); Beyers 1 (1/0); Stokes 1 (1/0); Winings 1 (1/0); C Miller 1 (0/1); SAFETY-Mose 1