VESTABURG – Once again, Montabella’s football team had to come from behind to get a win.
And it did.
The Mustangs came back from a 20-0 deficit to beat the Vestaburg Wolverines in overtime 32-26 Friday night.
That 20-0 lead all came in the first quarter and all came compliments of Kyle Johnson, who scored three touchdowns in the first nine minutes.
“They dominated us in the first quarter,” Montabella coach David Clay said of Vestaburg (3-3, 1-2). “They were able to pound the ball for nine, 10 yards a pop.”
“We shut their (Montabella’s) passing down. That’s what was happening early.” Vestaburg coach Dan Ryckman said.
The Mustangs (5-1, 2-1) got on the board with the passing combination of Charles Helmer and Jemikal Papendick. They hooked up on a 66-yard pass with 3:26 left in the first quarter to make the score 20-6 Wolverines.
Montabella made the score 20-12 on a 33-yard run by Derek Martin, only to be countered by a K.J. Keyes 35-yard run for a 26-12 halftime score.
That Keyes touchdown was the last time the Wolverines would see paydirt.
“The defensive coaches made changes,” Clay said. “We told them (Montabella players) they needed to make the changes and we would win that game. We did that at halftime, too. They executed and we came back.”
“Mostly they stepped up their play. We were still moving the ball,” Ryckman said.
Helmer and Papendick hooked up again just 19 seconds into the third quarter on a 67-yard pass, then again on the two-point conversion. The duo tied the game with 2:39 left in the third quarter on a 56-yard pass.
“I had a couple kids get hurt in the second half and that hurt,” Ryckman said. “I just had key injuries at the wrong time. It’s part of football. It is what it is.”
Neither side scored in the fourth quarter, leading to the overtime. Vestaburg was held off the scoreboard on their drive, but Helmer and Papendick got together for a seven-yard touchdown pass for the win.
“I think it proved to this team that no matter how far down you have to play all four quarters,” Clay said. “We got down early to Sacred Heart and I thought we packed it in that week. To keep playing hard for four quarters we can overcome those things. It was nice to see that lesson was learned tonight.”
Helmer finished 15-of-29 for 390 yards and the four touchdowns. Papendick hauled in eight balls for 239 yards and the four scores.
Johnson ran the ball 31 times for the Wolverines, amassing 226 yards on the ground. Keyes added seven carries for 67 yards.
“It was one of the best games I’ve seen in 15 years,” Ryckman said. “It’s a shame someone had to lose.”
Both teams will celebrate their homecomings next week. Montabella will host Onekama while Vestaburg will host Manistee Catholic Central.