GRAND RAPIDS — Cody Ritsema to Dylan Smith. That was pretty much the game plan for the Kenowa Hills Knights.
Ritsema passed for 363 yards and Smith grabbed 10 passes in a 28-22 home victory over the Greenville Yellow Jackets on Thursday night.
The biggest play of the night came just seconds after the Yellow Jackets (1-1, 0-0) tied the game at 15-15.
“That was a back breaker,” Greenville coach Dave Moore said. “We had the momentum and all of a sudden the long pass. You have to be able to comeback from that. Good teams come back from those things.”
A slow start put the Yellow Jackets in a 15-0 deficit at halftime. After tying the game and stealing the momentum, the Knights reversed the situation in a matter of seconds when Ritsema hit Smith for an 85-yard touchdown.
Vinner Mendez kicked the extra point for a 22-15 lead.
“Those kids have grown up together,” Van Essen said. “It’s something we are used to seeing. They have to come out and make plays. They are seniors and that is what they should do.”
Kenowa Hills (2-0, 0-0) scored two first quarter touchdowns, while holding the Yellow Jackets scoreless in the first half. Ritsema ran a score in from one-yard out and then connected With Smith for a 29-yard touchdown pass. An extra point and 2-point conversion attempt both failed giving the Knights a 12-0 lead.
Mendez hit a 27-yard field goal in the final seconds of the first half for a 15-0 lead.
“We were just flat. We didn’t play well,” Moore said. “In the first half we couldn’t do anything. We couldn’t hold them. We were just flat, I don’t know how else to say it.
“The second half we came out and played our game. We played well,” he added.
The Yellow Jackets came out of the lockerroom with the missing first half fire. They scored twice in a six minute time frame to tie the game.
Carter Stephens caught a 10-yard touchdown catch from Curtis Heppe for Greenville’s first score capping an 80-yard drive.
After a defensive three-out, Stephens broke loose for a 43-yard score. A 2-point conversion tied the game at 15-15.
“We came out with a lot of enthusiasm,” Moore said. “That’s how it has to be, but you can’t just do it in the second half.”
“For them to come out and take that 80-yard drive was huge,” Van Essen said. “For us to respond back right after was big in our kids aspect. It was a good high school football game.”
The two teams traded touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 28-22, the Yellow Jackets made one final charge and scored on a 15-yard run by Stephens with just 3:15 remaining.
Kenowa Hills was able to run the clock out to secure the victory.
“I’m proud of them that we didn’t quit,” Moore said. “It would have been easy to do so. We fought hard in the second half.”
Ritsema was 16-for-26 and four touchdowns total. Smith had 200 yards receiving. Casey Carruthers had 144 yards on the ground and through the air, while Luke Van Essen caught three passes for 47 yards and a touchdown.
“Good quarterback, good receiver,” Moore said. “They are tough. There is no question.”
Stephens finished with 178 yards on 18 carries. He scored three touchdowns (one scoring catch). Miguel Nieto had 121 yards on 20 carries.
Kenowa Hills out gained the Yellow Jackets 480-319.
Greenville will host Thornapple Kellogg Friday, while Kenowa Hills is at Grand Rapids Christian.