Griffith, 9/6/13--Hobart's Noah Smith finds a hole in the defense. | Vincent D. Johnson/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 10, 2013 6:33AM
Hobart running back Noah Smith isn’t overly flashy on the football field.
He puts his head down and grinds out yard after yard.
But he’s definitely capable of putting big runs together.
In fact, the 5-foot-10, 195-pound junior running back ran off five carries for 10-yards or more in the second half against Griffith on Friday night in each team’s Northwest Crossroads Conference opener. He also had a 67-yard TD run in the first half in his team’s 56-38 win over the Panthers.
Brickies coach Ryan Turley said Smith is exactly the guy he wants with the ball in his hands at the end of the game.
“He wants it when the game’s on the line,” Turley said of his running back who finished with 202 yards on 16 carries and a TD Friday night. “I’s nice to have one of those in your back pocket. He knows what he needs to do and he does a good job doing it.”
No Monday night hangover: Munster faced a short turnaround in their game against Highland due to a game last Monday at Chesterton that was twice postponed by weather. But it didn’t seem to hurt the Mustangs as they handled the Trojans easily.
“It was kind of a crazy week,” said Munster coach Leroy Marsh. “We had to change our routine up quite a bit after Monday.”
Fortunately for Munster, many of the regulars were able to sit the second half. They’ll need fresh legs for Andrean’s visit this week, in a game that might very well decide the NCC title.
Sala does it all for Ingots: In River Forest’s first two games, Malachi Sala had 100 total yards, only 13 of those coming as a receiver on just two catches. In Friday night’s 27-0 victory over Lake Station in the annual rivalry game, Sala almost tripled that yardage. The 5-foot-7 junior had 36 yards rushing — including a 21-yard touchdown run — and 149 yards receiving and another TD. He had a sack on defense.
“He’s probably one of our smallest guys, but he’s one of the best players pound-for-pound in Northwest Indiana,” Ingots’ coach Jeff Bean said. “I call him our warrior. He gives it his all out there on offense, defense and special teams. He’s a playmaker.”
Showing his toughness: Portage quarterback Gage Pearman was the recipient of several hard hits from the Lake Central defense on Friday night.
“He’s pretty tough,” said Portage head coach Wally McCormack. “He took a beating, before and after the whistle.”
Perhaps the hardest hit came after Pearman let fly on a 40-yard touchdown pass that could’ve been the game-winning score, if it hadn’t been nullified by a Portage penalty. That hit knocked Pearman out of the game for two offensive possessions, before he returned under center for the game’s final drive.
Pearman promptly hit Cody Maldonado for a 30-yard pass on his first throw back in the game. But two plays later, another Pearman bomb was intercepted by Mitchell Oksam to end Portage’s last hope.
Pirates’ defense improves: After allowing a talented Andrean offense 34 points in 34-32 loss last week, Merrillville’s defense showed plenty of improvement in a 14-13 win over Crown Point (2-1, 0-1) in the Duneland Conference opener for both schools Friday night.
Andrean star quarterback Matt DeSomer accounted for nearly 500 yards himself (475) last week against the Pirates (2-1, 1-0).
“Our defense definitely made some big plays for us tonight,” Pirates’ coach Zac Wells said. “I’m actually really, really happy with the way the kids responded in our first (league) game. Coming into this season, I did think our defense was going to be pretty good, and I still feel that way. We showed a lot of improvement in some areas tonight. We got more pressure up front, forced a lot of turnovers (five) and made some pretty big plays when we really needed to.”
Staff writer Steve T. Gorches and correspondents John O’Malley, Dave Melton, Ryan Haskell and Dennis Churilla contributed