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Raider playoff hopes end


Frankenmuth wins 28-22 in final minute


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Jace Rinke, of Almont, fights for a first down during Friday's game versus Frankenmuth. photo by Kevin Kissane.

November 07, 2018
ALMONT — Almont fell six points short when the final scores were tallied, dropping a 28-22 verdict to Frankenmuth in a Division 5, Region 3, District 2 championship football playoff confrontation it hosted last Friday night.

With the outcome, Frankenmuth (9-2) advances to Friday's regional championship clash. There they will square off versus host Portland at 7 p.m. Almont sees an impressive 10-1 campaign draw to a close.

"This was a great football game in a great playoff atmosphere," Almont Coach James Leusby said. "It is tough to end our season this way but Frankenmuth earned it tonight," he noted.

"I would like to say a special thank you to our seniors that have done a great job leading our team. They have put in the work required to achieve what we achieved. Also, thank you to the parents and fans of Almont football for supporting us all season long. It was a special season that many of us will never forget.:

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In Friday's confrontation, Almont needed just 49 seconds to put up the game's first points.

On just their third offense play, Almont took advantage of a Michael Luljuraj touchdown tote covering 19 yards of territory to go ahead. The try for two that followed failed, but the Raiders' lead stood at 6-0 with 11:11 showing on the first quarter clock.

Frankenmuth then fought back with an Alec Yagiela seven-yard touchdown run and a Yagiela PAT tote 3:31 before the quarter was to end, good for an 8-6 edge at the time.

That would be the last points either side registered during quarter number one.

The second quarter saw Almont bounce back with a Josh Hellebuyck to Colby Schapman 45-yard touchdown pass collaboration. Jack Paupert followed it up with a successful PAT tote, staking the Raiders to a 14-8 cushion that would remain the same at the halftime break.

That was followed by a scoreless third quarter.

Not long into quarter four, Frannkenmuth made it a 14-14 contest when Kaleb Gammons scored via a tote from one yard out. The extra point kick that followed proved unsuccessful.

The lead would then change hands three times after that.

The first time it happened Frankenmuth took advantage of a 71-yard touchdown dash by Yagiela and a successful extra point kick to go up 21-14 with 6:11 showing on the fourth quarter clock.

Almont then made it a 22-21 ballgame when Hellebuyck hit Schapman for a 24-yard touchdown pass and Jace Rinke hit paydirt with a PAT tote. There was now 1:49 remaiing.

Frankenmuth then marched down the field and delivered a Gammons touchdown tote from seven yards out. The extra point kick which followed proved successful, giving the Eagles a 28-22 cushion with 29 ticks left.

Almont would try to frame a response to that score, but to no avail, as turnover on the offensive series that followed sealed their fate.

For the night, Hellbuyck completed nine of 18 pass plays for 179 yards as Almont's quarterback. He threw two interceptions along the way.

His successful tosses were distributed to four different targets. Their ranks consisted of Paupert (three catches for 59 yards), Rinke (three receptions for 46 yards), Schapman (two catches for 69 yards) and Lulgjuraj (one reception for five yards).

The Almont ground attack managed 140 yards on 23 totes.

Paupert (six rushes for 73 yards) and Rinke (nine totes for 52 yards) posted Almont's top numbers. The remaining eight Raider rushes netted a combined 15-yard gain.

Jacob Hausmann (four solos and 18 assists), Blake Kapron (three solos and 12 assists) and Christian Buckmiller (three solos and 11 assists) supplied Almont's highest tackle outputs. Schapman (two solos and five assists), Michael Rinke (one solo and six assists) and Paupert (two solos and four assists) made their presence felt as well.

The Almont defense also registered a pair of takeaways. Meric Okoniewski and Panduren (a fumble recovery apiece) furnished those.

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.
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