GRIFFITH | The spotlight was on Keegan Higgins and Friday night's Northwest Crossroads Conference contest was his show for the first 24 minutes.
The Kankakee Valley senior running back was a threat to take it to the house every time he touched the football. Higgins ended his night with 22 carries for 148 yards and four first half touchdowns in a 39-18 win over the Panthers.
“We were focusing on coming into the game with a high intensity, trying to get better every week and make every game every week the most important game of the year,” Higgins said. “We just need to keep making steps to getting better every day.”
With the Kougars coming in at 1-3 after a heartbreaking 28-27 loss to Hobart last week, getting a win was of utmost importance to right the ship.
“Coming off last week, we felt like we played a decent game and made a step in the right direction,” Higgins said. “It always feels great to win.”
Higgins had touchdown runs of three, 40, seven and 20 yards, in that order. Those runs put the Kougars (2-3, 1-2 NCC) up 26-6 at halftime. He credited his offensive line and teammates for that success in the first half.
“It always looks easy when you a good team (in front) of you,” Higgins said. “I alone can't get it done.”
While Higgins showed his big-play ability, teammate Joe Partin simply punished the Panthers (1-4, 0-3 NCC) as the clock-eating workhorse.
Partin would finish with 24 carries for 155 yards and a 5-yard touchdown in the third quarter. The K.V. backs found success running behind an eight-man front.
“We had some success with it last week and we were happy with it for the most part,” K.V. coach Brad Stewart said. “Tonight, we were able to utilize it as well. We were able to take it outside sometimes and take it inside sometimes. We've got guys that can pound it inside and guys who can take it outside.”
Despite leading the entire game, Stewart said he never felt comfortable. Griffith's Antonio Suarez scored on a 65-yard run in the second quarter, while Justin Green raced for a 68-yard touchdown just 16 seconds into the third quarter.
Kyle Buikema scored Griffith's final touchdown on a 5-yard run in the fourth quarter.