Going from jitters to jubilation, the Kentwood Conquerors overcame a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Auburn Trojans, 29-19, Friday night.
Kentwood, which returned only eight starters, was physically punished early, but senior running back Brandon Sytsma took over the game late with 84 fourth-quarter yards and two touchdowns. He finished with 123 yards.
“We had a lot of first-time players out there,” Kentwood 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.”
The bright news for Auburn: A new star has risen, and his name is Kieo Buchanan.
After losing all-purpose star Harold Lee, the Trojans found another dynamic playmaker who can change the game at any given time with his speed and quickness.
With a burst not often seen in high school football, the diminutive Buchanan finished with 143 yards rushing on nine carries and 130 return yards on five attempts. He reached the end zone once, but the touchdown was called back due to a penalty.
The Trojans, who shot themselves in the foot with 12 penalties for 100 yards, were just plain unfortunate at times.
Kentwood twice snapped the ball over the head of their quarterback and out of the end zone, but one of them worked in the Conquerors’ favor.
“Oh gosh, how about that?” Norris said. “One of (the botched snaps) was a delay of game. … 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.”