By Travis Smola
A dull first half led to a wild finish that saw Vicksburg’s varsity football team drop its third game of the season in a heartbreaking 22-21 loss to Otsego Sept. 21.
The first two quarters were a defensive. It was 3-0 Otsego at halftime. Things picked up considerably when on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, senior running back Caleb Welch found some space down the right side. He picked up an additional blocker and rumbled 73 yards for a touchdown. Fellow senior Joe Brady tacked on the extra point and it was 7-3 Vicksburg.
Welch had another huge game for the Bulldogs, racking up 207 yards on just 17 attempts. He also scored two touchdowns.
Vicksburg was able to take the lead again after senior receiver Aaron Phelps returned the subsequent kickoff 65 yards. It set up a 25-yard touchdown run by Welch on the next play to make the score 14-10.
“We ended up getting the momentum in the second half offensively,” Head Coach Tom Marchese said. “They did a good job of keeping the ball. We didn’t have many possessions in the first half.”
Vicksburg increased the lead on the next drive with a one-yard scramble by sophomore quarterback Jacob Conklin to make things 21-10. “Up two scores we just needed to get a stop and we couldn’t,” Marchese said.
Otsego made it 21-16 with 2:07 left in the game. Otsego’s two-point attempt failed and they were forced to go for an on-side kick attempt which they recovered.
Otsego then marched back down the field and Otsego quarterback Will Eldred hit Callaway again for the winning score. Vicksburg got a good kick return and Conklin made a good pass deep to put the Bulldogs in position for a long field goal as time expired. But Brady’s attempt fell short.
The next week at Paw Paw, the Bulldogs erased a 21-0 halftime deficit. Welch opened the scoring with an 11-yard touchdown rumble. Vicksburg got within seven after Shane Earl reached into a pile, stole away the ball, and then scampered 64 yards to the end zone for the score.
The Bulldogs tied things up on their next possession with a 10-yard keeper by Conklin. Vicksburg got the ball back with about five minutes left and set up Brady for a 39-yard game winning attempt. Unfortunately the kick fell short as time expired. The Redskins scored a touchdown and converted two points on their OT possession. The Bulldogs failed to get in the end zone and ran out of downs. The final was 29-21.
The two losses come after a decisive 41-7 victory over Sturgis. Conklin rushed for 177 yards on 16 attempts while converting three touchdowns in that contest. But Marchese said they still need to do better. “I know this is week five, but we’ve only had five guys who played on this field on a Friday night,” Marchese said. “We’re still really young but our guys are playing, they’re giving their best.”