BELDING — In the fall, Friday nights are all about high school football. At Rudness Field in Belding last night, football was the backdrop for something much more special.
The B Foundation wrapped up its second annual “Pink Week” in which they raise money to help with local families in need, raise awareness for students and honors those that have, are treating or were lost to cancer.
As for football, Belding (2-3, 1-2) put up a fight that all Redskins fans could be proud of. Comstock Park — rated No. 10 in Division 3 — had to rally and then hold on to defeat the feisty Redskins 38-31.
Belding coach Joe Schwander said the night’s ceremony made it easy to move on, even from such a tough loss.
“What it does, from a coaching and player standpoint, is put everything in perspective,” he said. “It makes it that much easier to move on to the next play. You know what, there are a lot more people struggling with a lot more than what we are dealing with.”
Schwander said it was a great learning experience for everyone.
“It’s a good opportunity for our kids to learn,” Schwander said. “Our school has done a great job educating them about cancer and people in our community on how we can help them.”
It didn’t take long for the Redskins to believe they could play with the Panthers.
Comstock Park (4-1, 2-0) made its opening drive look easy, until they were inside the 10-yard line. The Redskins defense stood ground and held the Panthers to just a field goal.
From there, the Redskins offense took over. Neil McCully scored two first quarter touchdowns en route to a 12-3 advantage.
“They have put up a lot of points on a lot of different teams. We knew offensively they were going to be tough,” Comstock Park coach Mark Chapman said. “Their coaching staff is doing a great job getting them better every week.”
Comstock Park quarterback Jake Brown found the end zone twice on the ground to give the Panthers a 17-12 lead with 6:35 left to go in the first half.
Again, the Redskins came back with a score.
“We had a lead, they came back and scored. That’s easy for kids to get down, but we kept coming back. You can only be proud of what our kids did tonight,” Schwander said.
Converting three fourth downs, the last one for a touchdown, the Redskins drove 60 yards in 6:18 to take the lead at halftime 18-17. On fourth and seven, Kole Hart completed a 24-yard back shoulder pass to Brendan Zuver for the score.
“They give you so many different looks and formations,” Chapman said. “They caught us a couple of times misaligned. They hit us at those right times and they made some plays.”
Comstock Park opened the second half scoring on a 15-yard run by Jake Bush to cap a 95-yard drive for a 25-18 lead. Belding scored three minutes later to tie the game on a keeper by Hart.
“Our quarterback made a lot of plays,” Schwander said. “Neil (McCully) made a lot of plays, (Brendan) Zuver’s catch down there and other kids made plays. That’s awesome.”
McCully made one more play to start the fourth quarter. He got to the outside and sprinted 71 yards up the Redskins’ sideline for a 31-25 lead.
Again, the Panthers made a comeback as Brown put the team on his shoulders with two more touchdown runs. The last one after a Redskins fumble to seal the game with 6:51 remaining.
“That is who (Brown) we go to, but our entire offense made some great plays,” Chapman said. “Jake Bush made some nice catches and had some nice conversions on fourth downs. We made plays when we had to.”
Brown finished the night with 180 yards passing and 100 yards rushing to go along with his four touchdowns. Bush finished with 92 yards on the ground.
McCully ran 22 times for 183 yards. Zuver added 59 and Nick Price 51 yards on the ground. Hart was 8-for-16 for 104 yards.
“It’s hard to be disappointed,” Schwander said. “I think they are disappointed, but after we are done talking to them they will get it. There is a lot of good from this game and we will try to get on a roll next week.”
Comstock Park travels to Grand Rapids Creston on Friday, while Belding travels to Allendale on Friday.