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Kentwood tops Auburn Riverside 28-21; SPSL North 4A title still up for grabs | Prep football
Kentwood delayed the crowning of the South Puget Sound League North 4A champion for another week with a 28-21 league win at Auburn Riverside on Friday.
Coming into the game, the Ravens (6-1 league, 6-2 overall) needed to put away the Conquerors (6-1, 7-1) to win the North title. Now the matter will be settled next week, with Kentwood needing a win against Kentlake (3-4, 3-5) to claim the division. A Conquerors' loss and a Ravens' win against Auburn (5-2, 5-2) next Friday earns the championship for Auburn Riverside.
"We can still win it," Ravens coach Bryant Thomas said. "We need some help, but at the end of the day, what's more important than that title is beating Auburn next week. That's more important than any title. The Fugate Trophy is on the line. We got to win that game."
On Friday, with 2,000 fans packed into Auburn Memorial Stadium for Auburn Riverside's homecoming festivities, the Ravens jumped to an early 7-0 lead with Joey Lucchesi rushing for a 7-yard touchdown, capping a five-play, 67 yard drive.
Kentwood responded when Rudy Gonzalez recovered a fumble and returned it 64 yards for a tying touchdown.
Derrick Bell added a 57-yard TD run in the second quarter for the Conquerors.
Auburn Riverside closed out the first half with quarterback Kevin Thomson hooking up with Lucchesi from 2 yards out for a touchdown, finishing up an 11-play, 62-yard drive and putting the score at 14-14 at halftime.
Kentwood resumed the scoring in the second half, capitalizing on Eyobel Melesse's interception with a four-play, 30-yard drive that ended with Brandon Sytsma's 1-yard TD run to put the game at 21-14.
The Ravens responded with Cole Huckaby's game-tying, 3-yard run on the opening play of the fourth quarter.
With 1 minute, 51 seconds left in the game, Sytsma punched it in from a yard out to take the lead for Kentwood, 28-21.
Starting out on its own 20, Auburn Riverside drove to Kentwood's 11-yard line in the waning moments of the game. But Conquerors linebacker Tim Angevine secured the victory by picking off an Thomson pass in the end zone with 30 seconds left on the clock.
"We felt last week we didn't play aggressive, and that's not Kentwood football," Conquerors coach Rex Norris said. "We went back to basics and tried to find a way to make it easier on the kids and make them play fast.
"Our coaching staff got in an argument on Sunday night because we wanted this so bad for the kids," Norris said. "We threw out a lot of things and just decided that if we're going to get beat, let's get beat going really fast. And the kids did a great job tonight doing that. They had two tough weeks. They were able to pull it back and not allow it to sink and be a part of who they are. Our game plan really helped them dig deep and get what they needed to get done."
Sophomore Brian Campbell finished the game with 10-of-16 passing for 98 yards for Kentwood.
Sytsma had 73 yards on 16 carries with two TDs in the game, and Bell added six carries for 68 yards and a touchdown.
The Ravens were led by Thomson, who had 68 yards on the ground and was 21-of-44 in the air for 225 yards, two interceptions and a TD.
Drew Wallen had 14 catches for 185 yards.
Lucchesi and Huckaby had 40 and 37 yards rushing, respectively. Each also added a touchdown run.
"I have to give credit to my kids," Thomas said. "They played hard until the last play. (Kentwood) just made a play and we didn't. We've got great support from the student body, the parents and the fans. The kids are playing hard. They're using that energy to help drive them.
"I'm proud of these kids," Thomas added. "I told them after the game, 'You left it all on the field. You played hard.' They took on the challenge, I challenged them to play tougher this week. And they played tougher. It was just a couple miscues that killed us."
Kentwood hosts Kentlake at 7 p.m. next Friday at French Field in Kent.
For Auburn Riverside, it's the annual rivalry game with Auburn for the Fugate Trophy. Kickoff is 7 p.m. next Friday at Auburn Memorial Stadium.
"We'll be up for them," Thomas said.