Coyotes hearts broken in tough playoff loss to Newaygo
REED CITY — There were tears flowing all over the field at Reed City High School.
There were tears of joy from the victors — Newaygo, celebrating an improbable 30-29 victory over Reed City in the Division 5 district final Friday night.
And there were tears of sorrow, from the Coyotes, who watched an undefeated season come to a close way earlier than any of them planned.
“We were very determined to win a district championship and that is why you see a lot of kids hurting right now,” Reed City coach Monty Price said. “They are tough, they will bounce back.”
The winning points came with three minutes remaining on a two-point conversion that capped a furious five minutes in which three touchdowns were scored and the lead changed hands each time.
Trailing 29-22, Newaygo used a long kickoff return to set up a two-yard run by Heath Harrington to cut the deficit to 29-28 with 3:12 remaining. Without hesitation, Lions coach Aaron Busch went for the two-point conversion, even though Conor Bradley was successful on his two previous opportunities.
Weston Butler dropped back and then hit Bradley on a shuffle pass, who dove into the end zone for the winning points.
“We had the momentum and I thought our group of linemen were pushing them down the field,” Busch said. “I had guys chirping to go for it and I faith in these guys.”
Reed City had a chance to put the winning points on the board, but an interception by Robert Mendham with a little more than a minute remaining ended the drive.
The Coyotes had success moving the ball throughout the contest, getting a good return to open the game and begin the scoring on a 1-yard run by Jordan Straub.
“After the game, I told them you win like a champion, you lose like a champion and to keep their heads up high.”
– MONTY PRICE
REED CITY HEAD COACH
The senior running back rushed for three touchdowns and 96 yards.
Though Reed City scored 29 points, Price thought the offense struggled at times.
“Newaygo gave us different looks and we were a little confused at times,” he said. “We took a lot of risks and fortunate for us it paid off early, but when we needed to make a play late, we fell short.”
The Lions tied the score early in the second quarter on a 1-yard run by Butler that was set up on a fourth-and-11 completion for a 30-yard gain and a first down.
“Defensively, I thought we did a good job against the run, but we struggled to defend the pass,” Price said.
Reed City answered with a pair of scores —one in the second quarter and another in the third. Straub found paydirt from 2-yards out with under three minutes remaining in the first half.
The Coyotes then took a 21-7 lead midway through the third quarter as Straub busted a 55-yard run to the end zone.
However, Newaygo scored twice — a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Butler and a 13-yard pass from Butler to Bradley. After Max Harrington ran in the two-point conversion, the Lions held their first lead of the game 22-21 with eight minutes left in the contest.
“The big thing with these kids is they never gave up,” Busch said. “We just kept plugging along.”
It took Reed City less than two minutes to reclaim the lead.
Jonathan Green capped a short drive of four plays and 65 yards as the Coyotes took a 29-22 advantage after Straub’s run for conversion.
“We were chipping at the stone plugging away and hoping to break one,” Price said.
All of which set up the winning score by Heath Harrington.
“After the game, I told them you win like a champion, you lose like a champion and to keep their heads up high,” Price said.
The Coyotes conclude the season with a 10-1 record.