McNally gives Standish the boot
Clutch field goal leads Almont to opening game win, 9-7
September 02, 2009ALMONT — Ben McNally connected on a clutch 37-yard field goal attempt with 1:02 remaining, lifting host Almont to a dramatic 9-7 win against Standish Sterling in a non-league varsity football battle last Friday night.
It was the season-opener for both combatants.
"I liked what I saw from us," Almont Coach Jeremy Ferman said. "We fell behind 7-0 at one point, but came back to get the win," he noted.
"Standish Sterling (a Division 5 state semifinalist a year ago) is a good football team. Hopefully, tonight's performance will set the tone for a successful season for us."
In Friday's clash, Standish Sterling reached the scoreboard first. That happened when Panther quarterback Mitchell McFarland broke loose for a 37-yard touchdown run with 4:49 showing on the first quarter clock.
Trevor Trombley followed it up with an accurate extra-point boot, increasing Standish Sterling's cushion to 7-0.
|Aaron May, of Almont, looks to elude a Standish Sterling defender after receiving a punt during Friday’s non-league gridiron confrontation. photo by Kevin Kissane.|
It would take Almont 12:04 to frame a response to that tally.
When they did, Addam Wierbicki did the damage with a touchdown tote from three yards out. His score came 4:45 before halftime.
Almont then lined up for an extra-point kick, hoping to acquire the equalizer. Instead, the snap went awry and McNally alertly scooped up the loose ball.
He scrambled and stopped on a dime, before releasing a pass attempt. A Standish Sterling defender stepped into the path of the toss and intercepted it in the end zone.
The next time the score changed was when McNally split the uprights with his game-winning kick during the game's waning moments.
"Right after I kicked the ball I was hit and knocked to the ground," McNally said. "I wasn't sure if I made it or not, until I heard our crowd cheer," he noted.
"It wasn't a pretty kick from what they tell me but it went through. That is all that mattered. It was a great feeling knowing that we were in position to win the game."
Just a few ticks later, Almont inched even closer to a win when Jake Ferrell recovered a Standish Sterling fumble.
Almont then ran out the clock, closing out a nailbiting win.
The Almont ground attack rolled up 244 yards on 45 totes that evening.
Individually, Wierbicki led the way with 20 rushes for 134 yards. Garrett Savage (64 yards on 15 totes) and Josh Kunath (five rushes for 30 yards followed). Jordan Stanek (17 yards on one tote), Travis Zelkowski (two rushes for a yard) and Tom Nowicki (a combined two-yard loss on two totes) backed their efforts.
Nowicki wound up zero for two as Almont's quarterback that evening. He threw one interception along the way.
McNally was the other Almont player who opted to air out the football. His lone attempt resulted in an interception.
Erik O'Connor and Ferrell paced the Almont defense. They were credited with eight solo stops each. Derek Kopp (five solos), Stanek (four solos) along with Mike Grundner and Nick Ouillete (three solos apiece) made their presence felt as well.
The Almont defense also registered two takeaways that evening. O'Connor (an interception) and Ferrell (a fumble recovery) furnished those.
Almont will look to make it two wins in as many starts when they return to action this Thursday with a road trip to Richmond. The Blue Water Area Conference contest lists a 7 p.m. starting time.