May 24 • 08:08 PM

Birch Run ousts Almont, 27-21

Panthers seal playoff win in final minute

November 03, 2010
ALMONT — Birch Run outlasted visiting Almont, 27-21, in a Division 5, Region 4 District 2 pre-district football game last Friday night.

With the result, Birch Run (9-1) moves on to this Friday's district championship clash where it will go up against host Millington (9-1). That battle is scheduled for 7 p.m. Almont finishes at 7-3.

"Tonight was a disappointing end to a good season," Almont Coach Jeremy Ferman said. "We will rebound," he noted.

"I am proud of how we were able to earn a share of the BWAC title and return to the playoffs and sad to see this season end."

In Friday's game, Almont grabbed a 7-6 edge after one quarter was complete.

Evan Shelton, of Almont, is tackled by the Birch Run defense during Friday night’s Division 5 playoff encounter. photo by Randy Jorgensen.

Quarter number two saw Almont generate seven points, while holding Birch Run to none.

That made it 14-6, Almont, at the halftime break.

When the action resumed, Birch Run bounced back with an 8-0 third quarter edge.

That made it a 14-14 ballgame at the 36-minute mark.

Birch Run then outscored Almont 13-7 the rest of the way, assuring themselves of a 27-21 win at night's end.

The victorious Birch Run side amassed their 27-point total thanks to a Nathan McGuire to Andrew LaPak 23-yard touchdown pass (followed by an accurate extra-point kick from Josh Lienau); a James Hartley 32-yard touchdown run (followed by a Hartley PAT tote); a McGuire to Joe McGrandy 14-yard touchdown pass (followed by a successful extra-point kick courtesy of Lienau); and a Hartley one-yard touchdown run. Those scores came with 10:18 showing on the first quarter clock; 7:23 before the third quarter was to end; with 8:34 showing on the fourth quarter clock; and 49 seconds before the fourth quarter was to end.

Almont produced their 21-point output aided by a Tom Nowicki to Jordan Stanek nine-yard touchdown pass (followed by a successful extra-point kick courtesy of Peter Deppe); a Brent Gibbs to Aaron May 17-yard touchdown pass (followed by an accurate extra-point boot from Deppe); and a Stanek 15-yard touchdown run (followed by a successful extra-point kick courtesy of Deppe). Those tallies happened with 1:08 showing on the first quarter clock; 2:05 before halftime; and with 4:38 showing on the fourth quarter clock.

Nowicki (five of six passing for 78 yards and one interception) and Gibbs (two of three for 15 yards) shared the quarterback assignment for Almont.

The duo's successful tosses went to four different targets. Their ranks consisted of May (three catches for 23 yards), Stanek (two receptions for 21 yards), Aaron Born (one catch for 51 yards) and Evan Shelton (one reception for a two-yard loss).

The Almont ground attack managed 252 yards on 38 totes.

Individually, Shelton (13 rushes for 136 yards) and Stanek (83 yards on 10 totes) led Almont. Travis Zelkowski (four rushes for 26 yards) and Born (24 yards on four totes) followed. The remaining five Raider rushes netted a 17-yard loss.

Nick Ouillette (seven solo tackles) along with JD Waters and May (five unassisted tackles each) paced Almont. Rene Santana, Nick Grundner and Matt Harris (four solo tackles apiece) made their presence felt as well.

Almont also notched two takeaways that evening. Kevin Creger (a pair of interceptions) 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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