By Adam Knorr
Grand Haven (2-1) stunned Reeths-Puffer 17-14 on a buzzer-beating field goal at Rocket Stadium.
After his team marched the length of the field in a textbook two-minute drill, junior Brady Jonas nailed a 27-yard field goal as time ran out to send the Buccaneers home happy.
“You talk about pressure,” said Grand Haven head coach Jason Duram. “This stadium was packed tonight. This is a big game for both teams and to go in there it takes guts. That’s what I told our kids. That’s what you have to have.”
The game was a defensive, penalty-ridden affair throughout. The Rockets moved the ball well, but every time they managed a big play, a flying yellow flag dragged them back.
“We just have to clean it up,” said Reeths-Puffer head coach Kyle Jewett. “It’s about composure in a big ball game and if you haven’t been through it it’s tough. We just have to play more composed and that comes with more experience.”
Where the Rockets struggled with penalties, the Buccaneers struggled with turnovers. Grand Haven lost three fumbles – two on special teams – and forced just one interception.
The difference, however, was how each team capitalized.
Grand Haven sophomore Ryan Mattson soared for an interception early in the fourth quarter and returned the ball to the Reeths-Puffer 20-yard line. Grand Haven quarterback Levi Overway punched in a short touchdown run two plays later and the Buccaneers took their first lead of the game, 14-7.
“It was very disappointing,” Duram said of the turnover margin. “But our one turnover that we created ended up setting us up for a touchdown. I was happy with our defensive effort and I was very happy our offense responded in crunch time.
“But the fact is we’re not going to win games by playing that way sometimes on special teams and offense.”
Quarterback Blake Ross led the way for the Rockets, turning in two rushing touchdowns on scampers of 10 and 14 yards.
Junior Joey Zelenka put Grand Haven on the board late in the second quarter with a short touchdown run. The game was tied 7-7 going into half.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Buccaneers outscored the Rockets 10-7 in the fourth.
Reeths-Puffer falls to 2-1 after losing to Grand Haven for the second consecutive season. The goal now is to limit the bleeding and bounce back.
“We just have to rally,” Jewett said. “You can learn something from a win and you can learn something from a loss. Certainly we’re going to come ready to go.”