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Almont pulls out last-minute win


Raiders' 35-22 victory over Lake Fenton, sets up rematch versus second-rated Madison



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October 31, 2007
ALMONT — Nobody said it would be easy.

Ninth-rated Almont saw to it that their season would not end, using a 14-8 advantage during the last minute of play, to pull out a heartstopping 35-22 victory over visiting Lake Fenton in a Division 5, Region 4, District 2 opening round matchup last Friday night.

With the decision, Almont (10-0) continues its postseason path this Friday when it travels to second-ranked Madison Heights Madison (10-0). At stake there is the district championship. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m. Lake Fenton watches an 8-2 season reach an endpoint.

"This is a win they will be talking about for some time," an elated Almont Coach Jeremy Ferman told The Tri-City Times seconds after the result was final. "I saw it myself and and still can't believe it," he noted.

"There were 22 total points scored during the last minute of play. It was incredible."

With 56 seconds remaining, Lake Fenton brought their followers to their feet when Ryan Chamberlain plowed a five-yard path to paydirt. His effort, which came on fourth down, closed the gap to 21-20 at the time.

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Neal Zott, of Almont, slips away from Lake Fenton’s Kyle Smith en route to a touchdown during Friday night’s Division 5 playoff confrontation. photo by Kevin Kissane.

The question on everyone's mind was would Lake Fenton, who had not kicked an extra-point on their previous two touchdowns, roll the dice and go for two one more time? And the answer to that query was an emphatic yes.

Following a pair of timeouts, Lake Fenton lined up to go for two points. Blue Devil quarterback Matt Taneyhill then handed off to Jake Kirk, who stopped on a dime despite the slippery conditions and lofted a pass into the arms of Kyle Showers.

That made it 22-21, Lake Fenton. Their gamble had paid off.

It looked as if Almont would come up short this evening, that is unless they could generate some last-minute heroics of their own.

The ensuing kickoff saw Almont return the football to their own 17-yard line. The Raiders knew the task that lie ahead of them would be tough, though attainable as long as their players worked together to achieve that goal.

Almont's offense broke their huddle, intent on orchestrating a touchdown-producing drive.

Meanwhile, Lake Fenton's defense appeared a bit confused as to where their assignments were.

That would provide Almont with just the opening they would need. To their astonishment, Neal Zott (who had made four catches for 83 yards up until then) was left all alone on the left side of the field.

Almont quarterback Steve Brohl took the snap from center, threw the ball into Zott's hands and he dashed 83 yards untouched to the end zone.

The collaboration brought the Almont followers on hand to their feet. The Raiders had regained the lead.

Steve Kunz followed it up with an accurate extra-point boot, giving Almont a 28-22 edge with 38 seconds remaining.

"When we broke the huddle I jogged over to the left side of the field," Zott recalled. "I was suprised when none of their defenders followed me," he noted.

"Our center then snapped the ball and Steve got the ball into my hands. I just ran as fast as I could and was able to make it to the end zone. Steve deserves all the credit, he saw me over there and threw it to me."

Brohl took the compliment in stride.

"I just kind of chucked the ball to Neal and he made the reception," Brohl said. "Once he got a step ahead of their defense I knew it would be very tough for them to catch him," he noted.

"When he crossed the goal-line it was a great feeling. We couldn't have dreamed of anything better than that."

Despite the turn of events, Lake Fenton still had a shot at mounting a possible comeback bid. However, the Blue Devils knew that time was rapidly winding down on what could be their last game of the 2007 season.

On the ensuing possession, Lake Fenton set up on their own 32-yard line. It was there they lofted a pass into the air hoping to advance the ball downfield.

Instead, Zack Lowell of Almont had other ideas. He stepped into the path of the toss and caught it en route to a 32-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Kunz's extra-point kick again proved true, pushing Almont's cushion to 35-22. There was now 23 seconds to play.

That would prove the last points either side put up as Almont went on to claim a deceptively distant win at Lake Fenton's expense.

Prior to the exciting final minute, Almont had collected 21 points and Lake Fenton managed 14.

Almont produced their aforementioned 21-point output aided by a Brohl to Zott 34-yard touchdown pass (followed by an accurate extra-point boot by Kunz); an Eric Mann 20-yard touchdown run (followed by a successful extra-point kick courtesy of Kunz); and a Mann 95-yard touchdown run (followed by an accurate extra-point boot by Kunz). Those tallies came with 1:19 showing on the first quarter clock; 9:31 before halftime; and with 13 seconds showing on the second quarter clock.

Lake Fenton amassed their 14-point total thanks to a one-yard touchdown run by Ryan Chamberlain; and a Kyle Smith 54-yard touchdown run (followed by a PAT pass from Matt Tanneyhill to Lucas Hasenfratz). Those scores happened with 8:25 showing on the third quarter clock and 56 seconds before the third quarter was to end.

On the evening, Brohl completed eight of 11 pass plays for 218 yards as Almont's quarterback. He threw zero interceptions en route to those numbers.

His successful tosses were distributed to four different targets. Their ranks consisted of Zott (five catches for 166 yards), Addam Wierbicki (one reception for 38 yards), Steve McClure (one catch for 10 yards) and Brian Thomas (one reception for four yards).

The Almont ground attack ate up 189 yards on 26 totes.

Individually, Mann (11 rushes for 147 yards) and Wierbicki (37 yards on five totes) posted Almont's best totals. The remaining 11 Raider totes netted a combined five-yard gain.

Steven Mack paced the Almont defense with 13 solo stops. Andy Schoen and Ethan Coucke added 12 and 10 solos, respectively, to the Raiders' cause.

The Almont defense also collected two takeaways. Lowell (an interception and a fumble recovery) supplied those.

Ferman knows that the test that lies ahead for his ballclub, a road trip to Madison Heights Madison, is a formidable one.

"Madison Heights Madison is very good ballclub," Ferman said. "We will have to step it up some if we are to leave there as district champions," he noted.

Sports Editor, Kevin Kissane has been covering sports for the Tri-City Times for over 20 years and is one of the most recognizable personalities in the area. Kevin when not covering anything from little league baseball to football, or softball to basketball, can be found on the links playing his favorite sport, golf.
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