From jitters to jubilation, the Kentwood Conquerors overcame a 12-point fourth quarter deficit to beat the Auburn Trojans 29-19 on Friday night.
Kentwood, who returns only eight starters on offense and defense, was being physically punished early on, but arose in the fourth quarter when senior running back Brandon Sytsma took the game over, putting up 84 fourth quarter yards for two touchdowns. He finished with 123 yards in the game.
“We had a lot of first time players out there,” Kentwood head coach Rex Norris said. “I’m not even kidding. Yesterday we had guys raising their hands. ‘How many of you guys is this your first game on varsity?’ On punt return, on kickoff. We averaged about seven to eight on each side of the ball.
“They battled a little bit. Snaps over the quarterbacks head, penalties for first down and just all of those things. They were kind of getting on each other and we had to pull them together and talk about believing in each other. Then one of our top players picks up the ball on defense and we’re back in the football game.”
The bright news for Auburn, a new star has risen and his name is Kieo Buchanan.
With the attrition of all-purpose star Harold Lee, Auburn has found another dynamic playmaker who can change the game at any given time with his speed and quickness.
A burst not often seen in high school football, the diminutive Buchanan finished with 143 yards rushing on nine carries and 130 return yards in five attempts. He also scored a touchdown, but it was called back due to a penalty.
Auburn, who shot themselves in the foot with 12 penalties for 100 yards, also was just plain unfortunate at times, as Kentwood had two balls snapped over the head of their quarterback and back out the end zone, but one didn’t pan out.
“Oh gosh, how about that,” Norris said. “One of them was a delay of game. And the other one, on a punt return, if we didn’t call a timeout just before they threw it for a first down. I mean, how many gifts are we going to get? Just as many gifts as we gave them, they gave us. It’s unfortunate. They’re a good football team. They’re going to win some football games this year.”