Spring Lake misses chance to clinch playoff spot with a tough loss to Allendale

By Dave Tomczak
LocalSportsJournal.com

SPRING LAKE – The Spring Lake football team is down to one final chance to clinch its first state playoff berth since 2014.

The Lakers opened the season with five straight wins, and six is the magic number to make the postseason. Then they dropped two games in a row.

On Friday they faced Allendale in an O-K Blue Conference matchup, with another chance to get that elusive sixth win.

But it didn’t happen.

Allendale used a quick-strike offensive attack and cruised to a 56-14 win over Spring Lake on the Lakers’ home field.

Spring Lake, now 5-4 overall and 3-3 in the conference, will finish the regular season next Friday on the road against Holland Christian, another team that must win to get in.

No. 30 Aiden Carlson makes the catch for Spring Lake. Photo/Leo Valdez

“(The situation) stinks,” Lakers coach Dan Start said. “We put ourselves into a corner and now we have to win next week. We just have to get past this, come in tomorrow and get back to work.”

Spring Lake opened the game with a 10-play drive that resulted in a 44-yard field goal try that was short and wide left.

The Falcons responded like they would most of the night – with running back Owen Burk.

Allendale scored quickly all night, beginning with a five-play drive that resulted in Burk scoring from one yard out with 7:07 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.

The Lakers drove deep into Falcons territory again on their second possession, but were stopped short on a 4th-and-2 at the 23-yard line.

The teams exchanged punts to start the second quarter, before Allendale put together another scoring drive, with Burk finding the end zone from 11 yards out with 2:22 left in the second quarter for a 14-0 lead.

A three-and-out by the Lakers gave the ball back to the Falcons, who ran a reverse for 37 yards, then had quarterback Adam Hotovy hit Mason Vredeveld with a 23-yard TD pass for a 21-0 lead with 54 seconds left in the half.

Spring Lake QB Caleb Montgomery looks up from the bottom of the pile with No. 55 Isaac West. Photo/Leo Valdez

With all of its timeouts remaining, Spring Lake quickly drove down the field, and cut the lead to 21-7 with a 13-yard TD pass from Caleb Montgomery to Aiden Carlson with 13 seconds left.

“They’re an explosive offense, they make plays, and we knew that coming in,” Start said. “And us not finishing those first two drives put us in a little bit of a hole.”

After cutting their deficit to 14 at halftime, the Lakers kicked off in the third quarter looking to shut down the Falcons and get back in the game.

Instead, Burk struck again.

The junior back took the second half kickoff back 90 yards to paydirt, giving Allendale a 28-7 lead just 15 seconds into the second half.

“We got it down to 14 points (by halftime),” Start said. “And I think when they got that TD, it took the wind out of our sails.”

Montgomery scored from a yard out with 4:49 left in the third to cut the Allendale lead to 28-14, but scoring runs from Burk (80, 16 yards) and Hotovy (two yards) gave the Falcons a 49-14 lead after three quarters.

Allendale’s Dillon Reeder recovered a teammate’s fumble in the end zone at the 5:45 mark of the fourth for the final score of the game.

“We have to prepare for next week, we don’t want this season to end,” Start said. “This group of seniors are the ones who helped change this program, and I don’t want to give up my time with them.”

Spring Lake finished with 341 total yards, 174 on the ground on 42 rushes and 167 through the air.

Montgomery was 10-of-12 passing for 151 yards, and had 19 carries for 107 yards.

Allendale finished with 381 total yards, led by Burk with 17 carries for 167 yards.

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