Two-headed QB monster leads Warren Mott in rout of Skyline in Battle at the Big House
ANN ARBOR — Inside the final minute of the first half, with a sophomore making his first varsity appearance at quarterback, in a mammoth stadium that nobody was quite used to playing in, there was absolutely no reason for the Warren Mott Marauders to get cute.
Run the ball, close out the half of their Battle at the Big House game against Ann Arbor Skyline with a three-score cushion, and call it good.
James Chaney had other plans, though.
The sophomore ripped off a 68-yard run — making the gallop in just 13 seconds of time elapsed off the clock — to cap a 21-point quarter, making it a 28-0 Mott lead at halftime, en route to a 35-12 season-opening in Thursday’s opener at Michigan Stadium.
“At first I was nervous — I’m not going to lie — but going in, I just thought ‘it’s just like any other game, it’s just at a higher level.’ So I just tried to stay calm, and just play as hard as I could,” the sophomore said. “Playing in such a big stadium, even though it’s such a small crowd, the atmosphere is a lot different than what we play at, at school. But it was a good experience, and it really got my adrenaline pumping.”
And the run? That got the blood flowing a bit, too?
“It’s one of those plays that just happens. If someone asked me, I couldn’t be able to explain it,” he said with a grin. “I just saw open field, and just started running as fast as I could.”
“We were just trying to run the clock out … to knock some clock off, not allow them to have too much left when they got the ball back, and he just busted it loose,” Mott coach Tom Milanov said. “But he’s a special player, special athlete.”
Chaney finished with five rushes for 78 yards and a pair of scores, and threw for 74 more yards, including a 54-yard catch-and-run touchdown by speedster Trevon Madison.
And Chaney didn’t even start under center.
That distinction goes to senior Jake Dube, who shared repetitions with Chaney, doing his own damage while the signalcaller, going 10-for-16 passing for 78 yards, and adding 32 yards on eight carries, including a 14-yard touchdown run that will go down as the first scored on Michigan Stadium’s new turf.
Given how well the time-sharing plan worked for the Marauders, there’s no reason to think it’ll be over anytime soon.
“Yeah, it looks like that at this point. And we’ve done that a lot in the past, where we spread the wealth. It’s not like Jake’s sitting on the bench. He’s playing running back, playing multiple roles. His strength and speed has really surged from last year, and so we said ‘Why not expand that to help the team,’” said Milanov, who had Dube slide over to running back, sharing the backfield at times with Chaney, as well as playing both ways, adding punch at linebacker.
“I can’t say enough about his leadership, going over and helping us on defense. Jake played zero reps on defense last year, so that was huge for us.”
Couple that twosome with junior running backs Dennis Mayfield, who had 74 yards on the ground, and Curtis Hamilton, who had 80, along with Madison at wideout, and it’s a potentially potent brew.
“It’s pretty fun to have a lot of weapons, and I’ll be able to spread the ball around,” Milanov said with a grin.
He was almost as giddy about a defense that heckled Skyline’s new quarterback, Davion Pipkins, relentlessly throughout the contest.
James Murray had three sacks and three tackles for loss among his 14 stops, while Romeo Jones had six tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery.
“The defense was getting after it,” Milanov said. “If we get to the point where we’re lined up correctly every time, we’ll be really, really good.”
The Marauders got the game to the 35-point mercy rule limit with an 8-yard touchdown run by third-string quarterback Dylan Van Conant with just more than seven minutes left in the contest, but Skyline finally came alive with a couple of big plays in the fourth.
After Pipkins hit Kenyatta Ewing with a 45-yard bomb, Solomon Putten scored on a 2-yard unto get the Eagles on the board. Anthony Henry ripped off an 89-yard touchdown run with less than 30 seconds left in the game.