CROWN POINT — Anthony Swims was doing push-ups at the 30-yard line after the game.
The Merrillville defensive back referred to the professional wrestling-style belt he was wearing around his waist as “the turnover belt” instead of “the takeaway belt.”
“Only the offense calls them turnovers,” the Pirates defensive coaches said. “You owe me 35 push ups.”
It was just about the only thing Swims did wrong Friday. He had two interceptions (takeways) and made the game-saving tackle at the goal line to preserve a 34-26 win over Crown Point.
“I just kept shooting the gap 'cause they weren’t touching me,” he said. “I was just going hard.
The Pirates were the ones with the big goal line stand this time, stuffing Scott Mills on a Crown Point fourth down from the Merrillville 1-yard line with 2 minutes, 45 seconds left in the game.
“We were kind of giving up the line of scrimmage a lot of the day but we did a great job when we had a yard. We got one stop and then got another stop,” Merrillville coach Brad Seiss said. “Before you know it, it’s fourth down. We have a lot of great leaders, strong guys up front and did a great job.”
C.P. (1-2, 0-1 Duneland Athletic Conference) had little trouble moving the ball for most of the night, but the Pirates made too many big plays.
“Our offense has struggled,” Seiss said. “We’d had a lot of breakdowns the first couple weeks but we knew we were going to score some points. It validates the hard work that we’ve put in the last couple weeks, and the improvement that we’ve had to get the win.”
Cameron Wright’s 10-yard touchdown run with 8:06 left in the fourth quarter was the final score.
Crown Point was moving the ball relatively easily late in the first quarter, driving to the Merrillville 17-yard line.
Swims stopped the bleeding for the Pirates (1-2, 1-0), stepping in front of a Ryan Bolda pass and taking it 79 yards for a touchdown.
“I thought, up front, our offensive line had a great week of practice,” Seiss said. “They definitely fired off the ball at the point of attack and we had some big runs because of them.”
But the Bulldogs offense picked up right where it left off, marching 79 yards in just under five minutes. The drive culminated in a 26-yard Tyler Gomez touchdown run. The extra point failed.
Merrillville punch back immediately.
Justin Rhodes took the handoff on the very next play, found some room and made a defensive back miss en route to a 72-yard score.
“What we just did was really big, and the schedule that we had got us ready for tonight,” Seiss said.
Merrillville played Andrean and Penn the first two weeks.
Crown Point continued its offensive dominance in the second half. The opening possession ended with a 31-yard Ryan Bolda touchdown pass to tight end Ben Fridrich.
Tray’Shawn McMorris’s 39-yard run was the big play the Pirates answered with this time.
Mills then scored after a long drive for Crown Point before Rhodes matched with a 1-yard run for Merrillville on the first play of the fourth quarter.