Indians pick up first win
By MICKEY ALVARADO
With just five seconds remaining on the clock and tied 42-42 with visiting Ypsilanti, Tecumseh's varsity football team put up its first field goal kick of the season to win its first game of the season at the new Indian Stadium on Friday, Sept. 18, in front of a nearly packed house.
The game’s momentum teeter-tottered back and forth until the Indians gained a 26-21 lead by the end of the first half. Late in the third quarter the Indians held a 42-27 advantage but by the end of the stanza the Phoenix rose up and cut the spread to just eight points. With 8:29 left in the game, Tecumseh quarterback Brad Vannatter took a hard hit that sent him to the sideline. Coach Jason Mensing sent Jordan Coward into the game and the ball was fumbled on his first drive. Ypsilanti recovered the pigskin and passed their way to a first down on the Indians' 25-yard line. Another pass with 3:03 remaining had Ypsilanti back in the end zone and only two points away from tying the non-conference contest. The Phoenix attempted a two-point conversion pass to tie the game but missed their receiver. However, a pass interference call cut half the distance from the goal and Ypsilanti quarterback Terrance Moore ran the ball into the end zone to knot the game, 42-42.
The Indians went three-and-out on their following possession but a good kick by Matt Napieralski sat the ball on Ypsilanti's own 14-yard line with just 1:24 remaining. Tecumseh's defense held firm and didn't allow another yard, forcing the Phoenix to punt the ball from the original line of scrimmage. Tecumseh received the ball on Ypsilanti's 44-yard line and had 57.4 seconds left to work with. Tecumseh rushed to another first down and sat the ball on Ypsilanti's 15-yard line before almost turning the ball over again. The Indians recovered their own fumble on the line of scrimmage. A long break took place shortly after with one of Ypsilanti's players, Arne Lincoln, requiring the use of a stretcher with 34.4 seconds remaining on the clock. The Indians were looking at a third-and-six play when returning to the field some time later [Lincoln was reported to be doing well, Wednesday morning].
A quarterback keeper by Coward cut just over six yards off the distance to the goal after the contest resumed and gave Tecumseh a first down on the 9-yard line.
“Jordan [Coward] came in and did a pretty good job of leading the troops and got us back into a position to win,” said Mensing. “So a great job by a senior jumping in and replacing an injury.”
Three plays later Tecumseh was three yards short of the end zone and Mensing opted to go to Justin Coffin for a field goal kick to win the game. It was the first time this season the Indians chose to kick the ball through the uprights.
Tecumseh went into the game at 7-for-9 on its two-point conversions, according to coach Mensing, but was denied four out of six times against Ypsilanti before attempting their first season field goal.
“We were pretty confident,” said Mensing of his kicker's ability, “If our kicker was able to keep his head down and keep focused that we'd be successful. And he kicked a nice ball up there.”
Grant Kennedy scored the first touchdown of the game in the opening quarter to give the Indians a 6-0 lead. Ypsilanti drove the ball up field and tied the game on its first possession as well but Tecumseh closed the quarter up 12-6 after Zach Merillat ran to the end zone from 88-yards out on the ensuing kick off.
The Phoenix added another touchdown on a 14-yard pass and connected on their point after touchdown kick to take a 13-12 lead in the second quarter.
The rest of the quarter seesawed the teams up and down with the Indians regaining the lead with a 28-yard Vannatter pass to Jacob Moore. Ypsilanti then drove into the end zone on its following possession, fumbled but recovered the ball, for another touchdown. A Phoenix two-point conversion run had the score set at 21-18 with 4:45 left in the half but with just 24 seconds left in the second quarter the Indians scored another touchdown on a one yard run by Merillat. Vannatter then connected on a two-point conversion pass to Cole Havelka and Tecumseh finished the first half up 26-21.
After going into the third quarter, Naperalski recorded another touchdown for Tecumseh on a seven yard run. Ypsilanti followed with another touchdown as well on a quarterback keeper but Tecumseh's Jacob Bloom hauled in a 27-yard touchdown pass from Vannatter to keep the Indians a couple of steps ahead (40-27).
Ypsilanti scored once again before the end of the third quarter on a 38-yard pass and followed that with a good PAT kick. Another pass from Ypsilanti's (0-4) More connected in the fourth quarter and a two-point conversion run tied the game.
“I'm happy with how we played the pass tonight, even though they probably statistically did a great job,” said Mensing. “When you have tremendous receivers and a tremendous quarterback, we saw another kid who's going to be a scholarship athlete, they should have production.”
It was the Indians (1-3) first win of the season and the first victory ever at the new Indian Stadium.
“Where we're at right now, every game is tough,” said Mensing. “The other good thing about right now is that every game has been competitive. We've had opportunities every game. So, when you're a junior laden team your objective is to get better every week, and hopefully by the end of the year you're pulling off some upsets. So, we'll see where we're at. It was good to get the monkey off the back and get the W,” said Mensing.