Tecumseh ends football season with loss to Eaton Rapids at home in district final

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Tecumseh’s Kolin Connors (79) gestures to the sideline as Preston Pelham (48) gathers himself while seated on the field after the Indians were held from the end zone and the game clock expired to end their high school football careers. Photo by Mickey Alvarado.
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A late come from behind effort by Tecumseh’s varsity football team fell short by a just one yard and the Indians closed their season at home on Friday, Nov. 8, with a 24-20 loss to Eaton Rapids in the MHSAA district final.

But the Indians went down swinging. The Greyhounds gained a big 24-6 lead with just 7:16 remaining in the contest. However, while the stands began thinning out in the final quarter the Indians never gave up on themselves, scored 14 points in the final minutes and had a great chance to win the game in the final seconds by setting up on the Greyhounds’ one-yard line.

“We didn’t quit. I didn’t expect us to,” Tecumseh head coach Al Romano said following the Indians’ emotional loss. “They were a worthy opponent and played very well. It just didn’t happen.”

It was a tough loss for the Indians to swallow. Romano mentioned that the Indians have lost only two games at home in the last two years.

“Two home games we’ve lost in two years and they both ended on the one yard line,” he said. “I thought we were going to score.”

After the Greyhounds increased their lead to 18 points (24-6), Jacob Black returned a kickoff that helped Tecumseh get back into the game. Tecumseh failed on its following two point conversion run attempt but held the Greyhounds to a 4th down and 20 to receive the ball again and set up its next drive on its own 21-yardline with 4:55 left on the clock.

Tecumseh picked up a first down and followed with quarterback Nick Cowen throwing a long pass to Nate Coffin for a gain of 47 yards that sat the ball on the Greyhounds’ 13-yardline. The Indians would get no closer with four incomplete passes thrown by Cowen and Eaton Rapids took over on downs (3:54).

The Greyhounds were held tight by Tecumseh’s defense again and punted the ball from their own 23-yard line. Ben Vannatter returned it to Tecumseh’s 47-yard line and the Indians’ offense took over with 3:04 remaining.

A spiraling 25-yard touchdown pass from Cowen to Michael Birt and a two-point conversion run by Mitch Meger had the Indians down by just four points (24-20) with 1:57 left to work with.

In the last minutes of the contest a dramatic turnover by the Indians almost changed the game’s final outcome. Tecumseh tried an onside kick that the Greyhounds recovered however an offside call on Eaton Rapids gave the Indians another chance. The second time Tecumseh’s Luch Giovannone kicked the ball the Indians’ DJ Tirado recovered it on the Greyhounds’ 42-yard line (1:54).

Megar picked up a first down on the Greyhounds’ 26-yard line and a pass interference call followed that moved the Indians up to the 13-yard line with 1:32 left for another run at the end zone.

Meger ran the ball up to the four-yard line and a Cowen keeper gave the Indians a first down on the one-yard-line with the clock ticking down to 47.4 seconds.

The Indians were shut down on their first down and Cowen spiked the ball on the second down with 34.6 seconds still standing on the clock but a flag on the play pushed the Indians back to the Greyhound’s six yard line. Meger rushed the ball next but was stopped just short on the one-yard line. The Indians hurried to get off one more play with the 20 remaining seconds quickly ticking away and got off a snap but Cowan was surrounded by the Greyhounds and stopped for a loss to end the game.

“I’m still kind of shocked, to be honest with you,’ said Romano right after the loss. “I thought it was going to end in our favor.”

The players huddled in front of their coach one final time and Romano told them, “Don’t look at this season on that one play.

“It’s supposed to hurt,” he added. “Especially the way you played the game in the fourth quarter and came back like that. Get your heads up. Get your heads up and learn from this.

“It was a great comeback by our kids,” Romano added. “A lot of people were ready to go home in the fourth quarter, but our kids weren’t. It’s a tribute to them.”

The Indians scored the games first touchdown in the opening quarter but after missing its point after touchdown attempt, finished the first half down 7-6 with the Greyhounds connecting in the second quarter.

Preston Pelham led the Indians’ defense with 13 tackles while Stephen Bloxam, Devin Moore, Silas Rebottaro and Landon Pelham each had six.

Cowen led Tecumseh’s offense, rushing 17 times for 141-yards. He completed 10-of-26 passes for 136-yrds, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Tecumseh closed its season with an overall record of 8-3.

Romano has a record of 19-13 since taking over the program in 2011. He went 2-7 his first season but advanced the Indians into post-season play and won the district title in 2012.




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