Homecoming heroes

Two seconds left. The score is 27-27. Spartan fans remain silent as senior kicker Ben Burns lines up one final attempt to score to win the game. The players line up, and the clock starts. The snap is made, and Burns strides toward the holder and connects. The ball flies, and it arches toward the goal post. It looks as if it’s about to miss, but right as it approaches the post, it just barely makes it over the crossbar.

Suddenly, fans roar and storm the field with excitement and happiness as Burns’ successful 44-yard field goal kick wins the game 30-27 right as the time on the clock had expired. Earning their third consecutive win Friday against the Timberland Wolves, the Spartans had a fortunate homecoming game with a close score of 30-27, improving their record 4-2 in dramatic fashion.

Leaving the game filled with adrenaline and hype, Burns described the thrill of having scored the final points in such a critical part of the game.

“I told them give me field goal range and I’ll put it through,” said Burns. “Afterwards I was so hyped. I was so ready to get out of [there] and see everybody. As soon as it went through my day was made.”

Despite the excitement at the game’s closing, the game didn’t start that way. The beginning of the game was slow at first, with no considerable plays being made that gained the Spartans any touchdowns. The game picked up speed as Burns made a 25-yard field goal with 6:45 remaining in the first quarter. The lead didn’t last however, as the Wolves were able to intercept a lateral pass between the Spartans in the last minute of the quarter and managed to drive it down the field for a 60-yard touchdown, ending the first quarter with the score 6-3 in the Wolves’ favor.

The game gained momentum as the Spartans began scoring more points and took the lead, making the entire second quarter. A minute and 20 seconds into the quarter, after a series of plays that drove the ball down the field, senior running back Kendall Morris scored a 44-yard touchdown. The extra point was made, and the Spartans were brought back into the lead with a score of 10-6.

The team then experienced some luck when they recovered a fumble from Wolves on the one-yard line, which allowed Morris to run the ball again for another touchdown, which also had a successful extra point to go along with it. Later in the last minute of the quarter, the Spartans topped it off with two successful long passes made to senior wide receiver Justin Andrews that gained a lot of yardage, and allowed senior quarterback Brody Allen to run the ball for seven yards into the end zone.

Again, the extra point was successful, which brought the score to 24-6 in the Spartans favor by halftime.

Senior offensive tackle Brendan Sullivan expressed the momentum the team felt after the team recovered the ball at the one-yard line.

“I knew our offense was having trouble moving the ball, and our defense stepped up big in that first half, and when [Timberland] caused that turnover, defense got us that score on that one,” said Sullivan. “It brought us so much excitement, gave us all momentum, and at that point we were ready just to take the field.”

Momentum for the team slowed down for the third quarter however, with both teams driving the ball up and down the field for the majority of the quarter. The game picked up speed in the last quarter as Burns made a 40-yard field goal with 54 seconds left. The Wolves then began to improve their performance, and were able to earn an 80-yard touchdown run within the last seven seconds of the quarter.

Continuing on the success of their last play, the Wolves continued to challenge the Spartans and earned another touchdown three minutes into the final quarter, and scored a successful extra point. After another three minutes passed, the Wolves scored again with a 78-yard touchdown run, and earned an extra point, tying the game at 27.

With the Spartans then in the face adversity, Sullivan described the enormous pressure and drive to win which the team then felt as the scores became tied.

“I know that our tendency is to get down on ourselves, but I think we had a lot of senior leadership step up and we knew no one wanted to lose their senior homecoming,” said Sullivan. “So everyone stepped it up and made sure we weren’t going to lose our last homecoming.”

And the Spartans did just that. Continuing to attempt to drive the ball down the field, the Spartans managed to eventually get the ball to the 27-yard line with two seconds left in the game. Right then, Burns made the phenomenal field goal kick which ended up winning the game for the Spartans.

Satisfied with the win, Head Coach Todd Berck described his feeling about the overall game and performance of the team.

“I [was] so happy for our kids. A large part of Homecoming is to take care of the game on Friday night and make sure that we do take care of our business. Our kids came out and played well. I knew [the Wolves] were better than 24-6 at the half, so I knew we were in for a fight the second half,” said Coach Berck. “We didn’t play very well on either side of the ball at times, but our kids were resilient, [and] kept fighting. [We] had a huge stop on [their] defense at the end, offense drove it down far enough for Ben to get a foot on the ball, and [we] made some history.”

Having won the game and achieved a successful homecoming, Sullivan focused on how the win would help hype things up and motivate the team to prepare well for their upcoming game against the the Fort Zumwalt West Jaguars this Friday.

“It gives us a lot of momentum,” said Sullivan. “This was a must win game because right now we’re heading into the toughest part of our schedule, and we knew we had to get this win going into the toughest part of our schedule, and it gives a bunch of momentum going into that game.”