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PREP FOOTBALL: SHA claws back from 23-0 deficit to win 24-23

Sacred Heart Sophomore Austin Neyer (9) runs the ball up the middle against Vestaburg for a nine yard gain at Mt. Pleasant Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. (Sun photo by KEN KADWELL/@KenKadwell).

Sacred Heart Sophomore Austin Neyer (9) runs the ball up the middle against Vestaburg for a short gain at Mt. Pleasant Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. (Sun photo by KEN KADWELL/@KenKadwell).

Sacred Heart Senior Dustin Neyer (12) runs the ball on a kick return against Vestaburg at Mt. Pleasant Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. (Sun photo by KEN KADWELL/@KenKadwell).

“It doesn’t get any better than this,” shouted veteran head coach Rick Roberts to everyone he saw.

His Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart football team had just overcome a 23-0 deficit to claim a thrilling 24-23 Homecoming triumph over Vestaburg Friday night.

The win upped the Irish record to 5-1 and to 3-0 in Mid-States Activities Conference action while Vestaburg fell to 4-2 and 1-2.

“I’ve been coaching 38 years and wins like this are special,” Roberts said. “My three boys are home … it’s a big win for us.”

It became that way thanks to a large dose of senior quarterback Dustin Neyer and a defense that reared its stingy head in the second half.

Two Wolverine scores in 20 seconds – a 33-yard run by Christian Benevidez and a 32-yard interception return by DeWayne McKinney – gave the visitors a 23-0 lead at the 3:58 mark of the second period.

That’s where Neyer comes in.

He took the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown. And, when Austin Neyer ran it in for two points it was 23-8 at the half.

“That kickoff return turned things around,” Roberts said.

Neyer took advantage of the wet field: “It was slippery out and I felt if I could get a couple of

guys to miss, I could go all the way.”

Roberts then made the defense a promise at halftime.

“I told them that if they stopped Vestaburg in the second half, the offense would score two TDs and punch in two two-point conversions to win,” Roberts said.

After allowing two big scoring plays in the first half (one a 51-yard run by Keigan Ryckman along with the Benevidez score), the Irish held Vestaburg to just 36 total yards in the second half.

And, the second half is where Neyer comes in again.

He completed all three of his passes for 59 yards and rushed 10 times for 73 yards.

“The old coach got smart and let Dustin have the ball,” Roberts joked.

It came with a little prompting from Neyer, though.

“I told him at the half that I thought I could gain some big yards running the ball,” he said.

After Austin Neyer scored on a two-yard run with 5:47 to play in the third period and Justin Crowell scored the two-point conversion, it was Vestaburg still up 23-16.

Dustin Neyer pranced in from 20 yards out with 9:14 left and then the Neyer boys teamed for the two-point passing conversion and the 24-23 win. Prior to the TD run, Dustin had two runs of 19 yards on the scoring drive.

“Sacred Heart made a few more plays in the second half and we made more in the first half,” said Wolverine coach Dan Ryckman. “Any loss is disappointing but I am proud of our team. We came out and played hard from the beginning. Their size may have worn us down at the end.”

The Irish finished with 254 yards in total offense, 195 on the ground. Dustin Neyer gained 71 yards in 13 tries and Austin Neyer added 70 in 17. Vestaburg had 162 yards of offense, 145 on the ground. Ryckman carried 15 times for 99 yards.

Sacred Heart, which won despite three turnovers and a safety in the first period when a bad snap went out of the end zone, hosts undefeated Carson City next week.

“Considering all the kids we lost from last year and to be unbeaten in the conference is pretty special,” Roberts said. “We’ve gotten a lot better this season.”

McKinney had two interceptions on the night for Vestaburg with Benavidez adding in 16 tackles.



Last Updated: 10/4/2013 11:21:01 PM EST

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