By Andrew Johnson
COMSTOCK PARK – Spring Lake football fans held their breaths near the end of the third quarter of Friday’s 37-34 victory over Comstock Park.
With about four minutes left, the Lakers were facing fourth-and-one from their own 41-yard line. Instead of punting, the Lakers decided to go for it, and star quarterback Caleb Montgomery broke loose for a 26-yard run down the right sideline.
Toward the end of the first-down run, Montgomery seemed to pull up with an apparent injury.
That injury, which Montgomery called a minor ankle problem after the game, knocked the senior quarterback out of the contest, and put backup QB Zachary Keyser into the lineup.
Keyser and the offense picked up one more first down on the drive, then got a 34-yard field goal from Matt Bierman, which put the Lakers up 37-27 just four seconds into the fourth quarter.
Ultimately, the field goal was the winning score for the Lakers, and Bierman admits he was a bit nervous before the kick.
“It’s very nerve-wracking,” the kicker said. “It was pretty crazy. I didn’t know it would win the game.”
After the field goal, the two teams traded possessions by turning the ball over on downs, before Comstock Park drove 68 yards for the final score of the night. Panther quarterback Chase Brown found Aidan Martin from 13-yards out to make the score 37-34 in favor of Spring Lake with 2:56 remaining.
Comstock Park then attempted an onside kick that failed to go 10 yards, giving Spring Lake the ball at the Panther 46.
Spring Lake then ran the clock out, with Keyser running for two first downs. Suddenly Spring Lake had a 5-0 record for the first time since 2005. .
Montgomery said he knew Keyser had what it took to finish off the game for the Lakers.
“He’ll get the yards we need to get, and that’s all that matters,” Montgomery said. “He’s a tough runner.”
The teams traded touchdowns in the first half. Montgomery scored from two yards out, Mitch Payne had a four-yard touchdown run, Montgomery connected with Alex Fleching on a two-yard scoring pass, and Montgomery broke loose for a 41-yard score.
Cameron Martin scored on a 69-yard for Comstock Park, and Chase Brown threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Alex Fleching.
Spring Lake led 28-14 at halftime.
Comstock Park had the ball first in the second half and took only three plays to score when Cameron Martin found the end zone on a 53-yard touchdown run.
The Lakers responded with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Montgomery to Kyle Garrison to extend their lead to 34-21 with 9:35 left in the third.
The final score of the third quarter came with 5:51 remaining when Brown found Chase Crittendon on a 11-yard pass, cutting the Comstock Park deficit to 34-27.
Spring Lake scored for the final time on its next possession when Bierman converted on the 34-yard field goal.
Overall, Montgomery rushed for 241 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries while also throwing for 114 yards and two touchdowns on 6-for-8 passing.
Mitch Payne added 68 yards rushing for the Lakers while Keyser finished with 43 yards rushing.
Aiden Carlson led Spring Lake receivers with 79 yards on two receptions.
Comstock Park was led by Brown, who completed 23 of 33 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns. Cameron Martin finished with 135 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.
Comstock Park dropped to 0-5.
“It feels really good,” said Laker head coach Dan Start, who will lead his team against five-time defending Division 5 state champion Grand Rapids West Catholic next week. “Our goal was to be 1-0 at the end of the week, and that’s what it’ll be next week. We’re just going to chip at it and see how it goes.”