SPRING LAKE — Belding’s football team advanced in the Division 4 playoffs thanks to a bold play call late in the game.
Belding defeated the Spring Lake Lakers 21-20 Friday when it converted a 2-point play after scoring a touchdown on its last offensive drive of the game.
The play involved a pass from Kole Hart to Nick Price that was ruled in bounds. The Spring Lake sideline reacted as if the ball was caught past the end line of the end zone. But officials ruled it a completion.
“I couldn’t see anything,” Belding coach Joe Schwander said of the play. “From our vantage point it looked like he was in because our kids were celebrating. The referees were there and you hope he makes the right call.”
The 2-point conversion try was “automatic,” Schwander said.
“That was our senior quarterback throwing to our senior tight end,” Schwander said. “That wasn’t coaching or a scheme. That was just two kids making a play.”
The conversion try came after Neil McCully scored on an 8-yard run up the middle to make the score 20-19 Lakers.
“I don’t know what to say. It was our O-line again,” McCully said of the last drive. “I trust the coach and the coach trusts me.”
It was the last of 28 carries for McCully, who ran for 239 yards. That was the most carries McCully had all season.
“Our O-line, I give all the credit to,” McCully said. “They worked their butts off. They are my brothers.”
“We hadn’t done it all year. This is the first time where it was, ‘OK, we just have to give the ball to Neil all the time,’” Schwander said. “Outstanding individual effort. Great blocking up front.”
The last drive saw the Redskins (7-3) go 85 yards in just under 2 ½ minutes. McCully had the bulk of the carries in the drive.
Belding needed that drive because the Lakers (7-3) scored in the third quarter when junior quarterback Mark Williamson threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Charlie Warber just 19 seconds into the second half. The PAT kick was wide right, leaving the Redskins the opening.
“Most of the second half was 20-13,” Schwander said. “They (Spring Lake) were doing a nice job defending us.”
A fumble on the opening kickoff led to Spring Lake scoring on a Williamson 9-yard run. But McCully ran back the ensuing kickoff 95 yards to tie the game at seven.
The Lakers scored with 5:56 left in the second quarter on another Williamson run, this time around the left end for 41 yards. But 1:16 later McCully went up the middle for five yards, but the kick was blocked for a 14-13 halftime score.
Hart didn’t throw the ball much after being injured on a kickoff return. He was 4-of-6 for 42 yards.
“A lot of the pass plays we wanted to run we couldn’t,” Schwander said. “We didn’t want to take the risk. You were already down one score, you didn’t want to give yourself second-and-10, third-and-10. We tried to keep the ball moving.”
Williamson missed his last five passes after getting the first tow completed. He had 56 yards passing.
Belding will face Comstock Park in the next round. The Redskins lost to the Panthers 30-7 on Sept. 27.
“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to play Comstock Park,” Schwander said. “They got us the last time at their place. I think that was a big moment for our kids, playing in a big game with all the cameras. Hopefully, our kids will learn from that.”