The Big Rapids Cardinals had spent the past few seasons playing their home games at Top Taggart Field on the campus of Ferris State University. On Friday night, they unveiled their new home football stadium as they welcomed Newaygo to town. It was a battle for three quarters, but a strong finish allowed the Cardinals to take home a victory in their stadium debut, 34-14.
After a scoreless first quarter, the visiting Lions struck first. Grant Harkness, the Newaygo quarterback, used his legs on a 6-yard touchdown run. Big Rapids would respond with a quick touchdown strike, as Wil Strickler and Jamal Strickland paired up on a 22-yard touchdown pass.
The Cardinals would take the lead when Strickler and Strickland connected on a 6-yard touchdown pass, but it was short lived. Just fifty seconds after Big Rapids’ touchdown, Newaygo evened the score with a 69-yard scoring play. Grant Harkness found Jayden Joseph and the combo brought this gave to a 14-14 draw after two quarters.
In the second half, Big Rapids took control. The Cardinals scored all 20 points after the break. Midway through the quarter, Strickler and Strickland struck for the third time, as the duo broke off another 22-yard touchdown. Justin Gorczewicz would lead off the fourth quarter with a 4-yard touchdown run. Strickler capped off the offensive attack with a 7-yard scamper.
Wil Strickler finished 13/22 passing the football, piling up 186 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 46 rushing yards on 13 carries. Jamal Strickland led the receiving core with 6 catches for 93 yards and three scores. Justin Corczewicz led the Big Rapids rushing attack with 103 rushing yards on 19 carries.
Grant Harnkess, in his first start at quarterback this fall, was 8/14 for 155 yards and a touchdown, though he did throw two costly interceptions. Jayden Joseph’s 85 receiving yards led the way for Newaygo.
Next week, Newaygo (0-3) will take on Fremont (0-3). Big Rapids (2-1) will face a tough Central Montcalm (3-0) team next Friday.