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Montabella wide receiver Zack Taubitz breaks into the open for the Mustangs' first touchdown against Vestaburg on the Wolverines' home field Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Photo by Skip Traynor)
PREP FOOTBALL: Montabella puts it together, tops Vestaburg
Vestaburg's playoffs hopes take hit
Vestaburg defender DeWayne McKinney (88) corrals Montaella wide receiver Peter Taylor (7) after a first down at Vestaburg Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Photo by Skip Traynor)
Vestaburg running back Keigan Ryckman (2) turns the ball upfield chased by Montabella defensive lineman Dalton Kuklewski (55) at Vestaburg Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Photo by Skip Traynor)
Vestaburg defenders Jared Hilden (24) and Jason Martens (20) turn back Montabella at the goal line on a two-point conversion at Vestaburg Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Photo by Skip Traynor)
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It all comes down to what side of the equation you end up on.
On Friday night from Vestaburg High School the host Wolverines turned the ball over five times and as a direct result dropped a close 18-16 contest to visiting Montabella.
The defeat was especially painful for the Wolverines (4-4, 1-4 MSAC) in that they can no longer win six regular season games and lock up a playoff spot, rather they will now have to win at Merrill next week and pray that they have enough points to lock up an at-large bid.
“You can’t win the game when you turn the ball over five times,” said Vestaburg coach Dan Ryckman. “And if you turn it over at a critical point in the game inside your own 20 it comes back to bite you. We moved the ball when we wanted and I thought we out played them most of the night. Turning the ball over inside the 30 three times was the difference in the game.”
Equally painful was how close they came to winning the game as they had the ball in the final five minutes with an opportunity to close it out with a couple of first downs. Vestaburg notched a pair of first downs after taking possession of the ball with 6:36 left and chewed it down to 3:09 when a high snap over shot quarterback Austin Myers.
Montabella (3-5, 2-3) senior Gavin Gregory covered the high snap, the second of the series, and just like that the Mustangs were in business at the Vestaburg 20. Three straight runs to Zack Taubitz gave the Mustangs their second lead of the night as he scampered in from two yards out to make it 18-16 with 2:05 left on the clock.
The Wolverines promptly went three and out which led to much celebration from the Montabella sideline.
“That’s a huge win for our program,” said Montabella coach Dave Clay. “It’s been a rough season for us because we’ve come out on the wrong end of some tight games. We had some adversity early on with some kids getting knocked out including our quarterback Brady Burggren. Then we had a couple linemen get banged up so we put some of our JV kids into positions they really haven’t practiced in. But everybody stepped up when we needed them to. The improvements we have made this year showed tonight.”
Early on it appeared as if this game might be a rout as the Wolverines marched 54 yards on five plays on the first series of the game. Myers hit Austin Blanks with a 13-yard play action pass to make it 6-0 at the 10:14 mark of the first and then he hit Jared Hilden with the conversion pass to make it 8-0.
Montabella had a solid first drive as it went 46 yards down to the Vestaburg 32 before turning the ball over via an interception.
The Wolverines drove the ball down to the Mustang 25 and looked primed to add to their lead, yet it was not to be as they fumbled the ball away on the first play of the second quarter. In all the Wolverines turned it over four times in the second quarter which led to Montabella’s first two scores.
With 8:41 left in the second, following a Nate Miller interception, the Mustangs got to within two at 8-6 as Burggren raced 22 yards up the gut for a score.
Then with 2:38 left in the half, following another fumble recovery, the Mustangs took their first lead at 12-8 via a Taubitz three-yard TD.
Vestaburg answered almost immediately as Jarred Stratton took a screen 61 yards for a score with 1:32 left in the half to make it 14-12. He also ran in the conversion to up the ante to 16-12.
The second half was dominated by the defenses up till the final minutes.
Taubitz led the Mustangs with 80 yards rushing on 20 carries while Burggren had 47 yards on 14 carries.
The Mustangs went with quarterback by committee in the contest also with Taubitz completing 4-of-5 passes for 30 yards.
Pete Taylor led the receivers with 23 yards on two catches.
Keigan Ryckman led the Wolverines with 68 yards rushing on 13 carries while Christian Benavidez had 67 yards on 11 carries. Myers completed 5-of-10 passes for 102 yards while Ryckman had two catches for 78 yards and Blanks two for 21.
Last Updated: 10/19/2013 10:46:47 AM EST