ALMONT — Chase Battani delivered a seven-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion tote with 40.7 seconds remaining, lifting Almont to a dramatic 29-22 victory over host North Branch in a Blue Water Area Conference battle last Friday night.
With the outcome, Almont goes to 4-0 and 3-0. North Branch slips to 2-2 and 2-1.
“What a game it was,” Almont Coach James Leusby commented. “It was a classic BWAC battle tonight,” he noted.
“I am proud of the way our boys handled the highs and lows of the game. We will now turn our attention to a physical Armada team. It should be another great Friday under the lights.”
In Friday’s battle, Almont and North Branch ended the first quarter with zero points each.
Quarter two would see Almont generate seven points as did North Branch.
The third quarter had Almont add seven points to their total and North Branch equalled their output.
That made it 14-14 through 36 minutes of action. The outcome was still up for grabs.
Almont then went ahead 21-14 with a touchdown and a successful extra point kick 8:46 from the finish.
North Branch would answer that with a touchdown and a successful two-point with 1:46 to play, going ahead 22-21.
To Almont’s credit, they refused to quit. The ensuing drive saw Almont advance the ball to the North Branch seven-yard line where a third-and-goal situation arose.
It was there Chase Davedowski took the snap from center and handed the ball off to Battani. He followed his blockers and was met by a host of North Branch defenders near the five-yard line, but kept his legs churning as he got nearer and nearer to the endzone.
Battani would cross the goal-line not long after, dragging several defenders along with him.
Almont now led 27-22 with 40.7 seconds to play.
They then opted to go for two points and Battani took the carry to paydirt.
Almont would keep North Branch out of the endzone the rest of the way, sealing it with a fumble recovery by Eric Haddon with 8.7 seconds remaining.
The visitors had pulled out the victory. And oh what a battle it was at that.
Almont produced their winning 29-point output aided by a Battani seven-yard touchdown run (followed by a successful extra point kick courtesy of Sean O’Neil); an Ayden Ferqueron three-yard touchdown run (followed by an accurate extra point boot from O’Neil); a Luke Winkler 19-yard touchdown run (followed by a successful extra point kick courtesy of O’Neil); plus a Battani seven-yard touchdown run (followed by a PAT tote from Battani).
For the night, Davedowski completed one of four pass attempts for 40 yards as Almont’s quarterback. He threw zero interceptions along the way.
Cole Walton had the lone Almont reception.
The Almont ground attack wound up with 224 yards on 35 totes.
Individually, Battani (15 rushes for 95 yards) and Winkler (75 yards on eight totes) put up Almont’s best numbers. The remaining 12 Raider rushes netted a combined 54-yard gain. Ayden Ferqueron (two solos and 12 assists), Cohen Ferqueron (12 assists) and Battani (three solos and seven assists) posted Almont’s top tackle outputs. Winkler (five solos and two assists), Brent Corneau (seven assists) Yousif Abu Joudeh (six assists) and Gordon Stolecki (two solos and three assists) supported their performances.
The winning Almont side also registered one takeaway. Haddon (a fumble recovery) furnished that.
Almont will look to keep their perfect record intact this Friday when they entertain Armada. The Blue Water Area Conference clash, Almont’s Homecoming, lists a 7 p.m. starting time.
Kevin Kissane has been covering high school sports for the Tri-City Times since 1985. When not standing on a field or court with his camera and notepad, he enjoys golf, travel and family. Kevin is a 1980 graduate of Capac High School, and is also a grad of St. Clair Community College and earned a degree in journalism from Central Michigan University.