BLANCHARD — Vestaburg’s football team may have blown a lead in their game against Montabella, but they still got the win.
The Wolverines got a touchdown from Christian Benavedes to beat the Mustangs 30-24 in overtime Friday night to clinch their first playoff spot since 2007.
“It feels awesome,” Vestaburg coach Dan Ryckman said of making the playoffs. “The boys worked hard. The boys never gave up this year. We went through adversity. We are learning to win. We were our own worst enemy. But we persevered.”
It was a tough loss for Montabella, coach David Clay said.
“Obviously any time you’re playing you want to win,” he said. “Those were two evenly matched teams. Both teams played well. Vestaburg was able to come out on top in the end.”
The Wolverines (6-2, 3-2) got out to an 18-6 lead at halftime on the Mustangs (3-5, 1-4).
“We made some adjustments in the locker room at halftime,” Clay said. “Those were able to allow us to get the spread offense working better. The kids were able to execute those changes and it allowed us to get back in the ball game.”
Zach Taubitz caught a pass from Brady Burggren to shave the deficit to six, then Burggren found Landen Burns from 50 yards out to tie the game.
“We give up a touchdown on a long play,” Ryckman said. “The ensuing possession we end up fumbling the ball and they (Montabella) scored. We ended up driving the length of the field and put it in for a 24-18 score. They tied up the game with 17 seconds left in the game.”
That score was a 10-yard pass from Burggren to Taubitz.
In overtime, Benavedes picked off a pass from Burggren to end the Mustangs’ try.
“The play before that we had a false start penalty that backed us up a bit,” Clay said. “I think we tried to force the throw too much. That was a play that worked well for us earlier in the game. Vestaburg did a good job adjusting to that route.”
That set up Benavedes getting his game-winner.
“We controlled the line of scrimmage,” Ryckman said. “We put the pressure on them. Their quarterback was running around a lot.”
Keigan Ryckman led with 17 carries for 147 yards. Kyle Johnson added 10 carries for 83 yards. Benavedes had 15 tackles on defense.
Montabella got 69 yards on 16 carries from Logan Burns and brother Landen added six catches for 89 yards. Burggren was 15-of-32 for 176 yards and three touchdowns passing.
While Montabella hosts Perry next Friday, Vestaburg faces Merrill, who at one point in 2005 was looking to go to the Mid-State Activities Conference.
“They (Merrill) play in a tough conference,” Dan Ryckman said. “They’re going to be bringing a lot of aggression and speed to the game. We’re looking to finish 7-2 and have an opportunity to host a playoff game.”