Onekama routs Baldwin 54-0 in regular-season finale

Onekama’s Jeremiah Torrey (1) blocks a punt attempt by Baldwin’s Ryan Kolenbrander (6) during the Portagers’ 54-0 rout of the Panthers Friday night. Grant Johnson (3) would scoop up the loose ball and score a touchdown on the play. (Scott Yoshonis/News Advocate)

Onekama’s Jeremiah Torrey (1) blocks a punt attempt by Baldwin’s Ryan Kolenbrander (6) during the Portagers’ 54-0 rout of the Panthers Friday night. Grant Johnson (3) would scoop up the loose ball and score a touchdown on the play. (Scott Yoshonis/News Advocate)

ONEKAMA — Onekama bounced right back from its only loss of the regular season, and gained a bit of momentum going into its fourth consecutive postseason, with a 54-0 rout of Baldwin Friday night.

With the win, the Portagers (8-1) tied the school record for regular-season wins and almost certainly earned at least one home game in the upcoming MHSAA 8-player football playoffs.

Onekama head coach John Neph said that he wanted to put last week’s 42-28 defeat at the hands of Central Lake firmly in the rear-view mirror.

“Mission accomplished,” Neph said. “It started with the guys having a great week of practice, and it all paid off tonight. We had some guys step it up in terms of their intensity and technique.”

The Portagers were without the services of lead running back Jacob Mauntler, who picked up an injury last week, but Blake Soper stepped right up and filled the void, running for 144 yards and three touchdowns in the game.

Onekama quarterback Jeremiah Torrey ran for 132 yards and two touchdowns and also blocked a Baldwin punt that led to another score.

“We were running the ball much better as the game went on,” Neph said. “I was really happy with the offensive line play that improved over the whole game.”

Indeed, the Portager offense took a little while to get up to speed. Onekama’s first drive ended with a Baldwin pass interception and the third stalled at the Panther 10-yard line.

But the Portagers’ big play offense was not to be denied. Torrey opened the scoring on a 2-play drive on Onekama’s second possession when he found some open field and dashed 83 yards to make the score 8-0 with 2:45 left in the first quarter.

After Onekama drove deep and turned the ball over on downs deep in Baldwin territory, Torrey blocked a Panther punt attempt and Grant Johnson picked it up and ran 10 yards into the end zone to make the score 16-0 7:31 left in the second quarter.

After that, the floodgates opened.

Soper scored his first TD of the night with 5:23 left in the half, a 46-yard run that stretched the lead to 24-0.

Onekama went for an onside kick after that, which Aaron Powers recovered at the Baldwin 41-yard line. Five plays later, Torrey scored from 19 yards out with 3:21 left in the half to give the Portagers a comfortable 32-0 lead at the break.

Taylor Bennett scored on an 8-yard run on the sixth play from scrimmage of the second half to make the score 40-0 and start the running clock.

Ben Acton picked off a pass to end the Panthers’ next possession, and Soper ran 58 yards for a TD four plays later to stretch the lead to 48-0.

Soper capped off his memorable night with a 1-yard plunge in the final minutes to make the final score 54-0.

But the game was about more than just Onekama’s potent offense.

“We did pitch a shutout,” Neph said. “Our guys did a great job defensively. We knew Baldwin had some big, athletic guys, and (our defense) did a great job just doing their job, staying with their assignment and pursuing.”

Next up for the Portagers is a fourth consecutive playoff appearance, and most likely a home game. The official pairings and schedule will be announced on the MHSAA Selection Show on Fox Sports Detroit Plus on Sunday starting at 7 p.m.

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Posted by Scott Yoshonis

Scott is the sports editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3112 or syoshonis@pioneergroup.com.

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