Fruitport hangs on to beat Grant, earns playoff spot and owns first place in Lakes 8 football race [VIDEO]

By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal

FRUITPORT – For three quarters it sure looked like the Fruitport Trojans would waltz to an easy victory and a playoff berth on Friday night.

But along came the fourth quarter and that brought the Grant Tigers to life.

But in the end, the Trojans hung on for a 21-14 victory.

“Obviously, our plan was to continue to build that lead in front of a great crowd on a great night,” Trojan coach Greg Vargas said. “Grant came to play in the first half and they came to play in the second half.”

Fruitport delighted its homecoming crowd by scoring a touchdown in each of the first three quarters to grab a 21-0 lead.

Grant stormed back with two fourth-quarter touchdowns to make things rather interesting in the late going.

Way back in the opening quarter, the Trojans grabbed the lead thanks to a six-play drive that covered 46 yards. Dakota Gordon accounted for more than half those yards on one gallop of 28 yards that put the ball on the 3. Two plays later, Fruitport quarterback Tyler Fehler scored from 3 yards out to make it 6-0.

Grant made it to midfield on its next possession, but a hard hit by Trojan lineman Chris Hendricks jarred the ball loose and Aaron Veihl fell on it.

Later in the quarter, Fruitport mounted another scoring drive. Again, a 28-yard run by Gordon put the Trojans in the ‘red zone.’ Two plays later, Fehler found Veihl in the corner of the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown pass. Mitchell Reyes caught the two-point conversion pass from Fehler and it was 14-0.

In the early stages of the third quarter, the Tigers mounted a drive that took them into Fruitport’s end of the field. But a gadget play by the Tigers was disrupted by Amilio Flores, who threw Tiger quarterback Garrett Bomay for an 18-yard loss.

The Trojans used the momentum from that big defensive play to methodically drive down the field again. Gordon had a rush of 19 yards using his shifty moves to cut through the Tiger defense and on the next play used some hard-nosed running to gain another 12.

On a fourth down play from the 8, Fehler rolled to his left and found Reyes in the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown pass. Matt Boroff added the extra point and Fruitport had what appeared to be a comfortable 21-0 lead after three quarters.

The Tigers began their comeback with drive that started in the third quarter and ended in the fourth when hard-nosed running back Brandon Bouwkamp broke in the end zone from 2 yards out. Andrew Dent kicked the extra point and the Tigers were on the board.

An onside kick was recovered by Fruitport, but that drive stalled.

The Trojans were poised to run out the clock when they took over with 2:23 remaining, but a botched snap led to a fumble and a recovery by Dan Upton at the 13.

Four plays later, Trevor Boyd scored from a yard out and Dent kicked another PAT with 1:33 left.

“I thought we played a little bend, but not break,” Vargas said. “Our defense gets after it.”

“Our linebackers and secondary played great,” said Hendricks, who had 13 tackles. “And our other linemen. We all made plays for that matter.”

Grant’s onside kick went just 7 yards and Fruitport took possession and ran out the clock.

Tiger coach Jim Stickney saw his team drop to 3-3 on the season, 3-1 in the conference.

“We’ve put in the time,” Stickney said. “Our schedule this year is the toughest our football team has ever had.” Stickney cited games against Shelby, Muskegon Catholic and, of course, Fruitport.

“Fruitport is a very good football team,” Stickney said. “But we’re coming along. We’re not out of the hunt for a share of the title and a playoff berth.”

Gordon rushed 15 times for 99 yards on offense and had 13 tackles on defense. Fehler completed 8-of-11 passes for 77 yards.

Bomay had 93 yards passing on 10-of-15 passing.



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