By Nate Thompson

MONTAGUE – Everything seemed to be stacked against Montague.

Visiting Ravenna stunned the Wildcats by erasing a 13-0 deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime, and the fired-up Bulldogs wanted more.

But when it came down to do or die, the Wildcats managed to live another day in the Division 6 playoffs.

It all boiled down, they said, to mind over matter.

“Part of it was our group of seniors digging deep,” said Montague junior quarterback Drew Collins, whose 4-yard touchdown run in overtime lifted the Wildcats to a thrilling 20-13 victory over conference rival Ravenna, avenging a regular season loss. “I know they didn’t want to lose to the same team twice on our field. And Montague football in November is really tough to beat in overtime.”

Drew Collins makes the pass for Montague while No. 71 Christopher Kessler looks to block. Photo/Tim Reilly

“We have this motto, we’ve had it for a long time,” added defensive lineman Walker Martin. “It’s dump it out. Dump it out and move on to the next play. That’s what we did to get this win.”

In a contest dominated by its defense, Montague fittingly clinched the victory with that group.

After Collins scored with a QB run to the end zone on the opening possession of overtime, Ravenna had a chance to tie. It appeared the Bulldogs did that after senior Grant Parker plunged into the end zone on a 1-yard run, but Ravenna was flagged for an illegal shift, negating the score.

On third down, the Wildcats forced an incomplete pass intended for Parker. On fourth-and-5, Ravenna quarterback Conner Kilbourne rolled to his left and lofted a soft pass to receiver Thomas McCullough near the goal line. The pass was too soft, however, and Wildcats senior Johnny Monette stepped in front and intercepted it, clinching the victory.

Surprisingly, with Sanford Meridian’s upset victory over Hemlock on Friday, Montague is expected to host another playoff game next week.

Montague seemed to have solved the Bulldogs in regulation, but a couple turnovers and outstanding play from Ravenna senior Calvin Schullo turned the tide in the fourth quarter.

The Wildcats led 8-0 after one quarter following a 1-yard touchdown run by Dylan Everett and a two-point conversion.

Dylan Everett is pursued by Ravenna’s No. 4 Calvin Schullo. Photo/Tim Reilly

Montague extended the lead to 11-0 at halftime when Andrew Kooi kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired.

The Wildcats went up 13-0 in the third quarter on a safety, when Ravenna purposefully ran the ball out of its own end zone when punting from deep in its own territory.

But Ravenna was not finished.

After a Montague fumble near the end of the third quarter, Ravenna had great field position at the Wildcats’ 32 to open the fourth. A Wildcats sack of Kilbourne – their fifth of the game – forced the Bulldogs into a fourth-and 14.

Ravenna came through when Kilbourne heaved a deep fade to Schullo, who hauled in a 36-yard touchdown, despite facing double coverage and drawing a pass interference call. The extra point made it a 13-7 game.

Montague fumbled again on its next possession, its fourth of the game. Wildcats’ coach Pat Collins said eight of their 11 turnovers this season have come against the Bulldogs.

Ravenna’s Grant Parker tries to push through Montague’s No. 50 Mark Vanderleest and No. 6 Brennan Schwarz. Photo/Tim Reilly

“It’s got to have something to do with (Ravenna), I don’t know what it is,” Collins said.

Montague’s defense held, and the Wildcats drove down the field with under five minutes remaining in the fourth. The drive stalled at the Bulldogs’ 26, so Montague sent out Kooi to try another field goal. This time the kick was wide left, keeping the score 13-7.

Ravenna responded to the miss in stunning fashion. On the next play, Kilbourne connected on a pass to Schullo. He was surrounded by three Wildcats near the sideline, but somehow slipped free and scooted 81 yards to tie the game.

“I got hit in the air and I stepped down, and I realized I was still in (bounds),” said Schullo, who finished with three catches for 128 yards. “So I just kept running.”

The Bulldogs could have pulled ahead with the extra point, but it was no good.

Both teams had one more possession in the fourth. Montague’s ended with Collins throwing an interception at the Bulldogs’ 32 to Schullo. Ravenna couldn’t capitalize, failing to get past midfield as time expired.

That led to Drew Collins’ winning touchdown in overtime, and Montague stayed alive in the playoffs.

Collins led Montague with 87 yards on 26 carries. Montague’s outstanding defensive effort was led by ends Hayden McDonald with 2 ½ sacks and  Walker Martin with 1 ½.

“All week it was about grit and just going after them,” Martin said. “They had a good O-line, so we dug deep. We knew they were a good team so it was going to take everything we had.”