Kentwood wins a thriller over Auburn Riverside to keep title hopes alive
The Conquerors avoided a three-game losing streak and gave themselves a shot at the SPSL 4A North title thanks to a last-minute interception against the Ravens.
Special to The Seattle Times
AUBURN – It was gut-check time for the Kentwood High School football program.
The Conquerors bristled at the notion that their proud history might take a hit this season with a three-game losing streak.
The Conks didn’t veer from their proud history.
Derise Fuga and Tim Angevine led a stout, resistant performance on defense as Kentwood kept its hope alive for an SPSL 4A North title with a heart-stopping 28-21 win over challenger of the throne Auburn Riverside (6-2 overall, 6-1 league) on Friday night at Auburn Memorial Stadium.
The Conks (6-2, 6-1) ruined the Ravens’ homecoming celebration and can wrap up the North Division with a win over Kentlake next week.
Senior running back Brandon Sytsma crashed in from 1 yard out to break a 21-21 tie and give Kentwood a 28-21 lead with 1:51 left in the game. Sytsma’s touchdown plunge came two plays after Fuga and Mafau Makani jarred the ball loose from running back Joey Lucchesi and Fuga caught it in the air and rumbled 14 yards.
On the next possession, the Ravens drove to the Kentwood 11-yard line, but Angevine intercepted a Kevin Thomson pass near the goal line and brought it out to the Conks’ 1 with 22 seconds left before Kentwood ran out the clock.
The interception helped extend to 14 games Kentwood’s winning streak against Auburn Riverside, which has executed a big turnaround under first-year coach Bryant Thomas after a 1-9 season last year.
After the Ravens opened a 7-0 lead, Angevine provided the first of his big plays. The linebacker laid a big hit on Ravens running back Joey Lucchesi, knocking the ball into the air. Defensive back Rudy Gonzalez caught it in stride and ran 64 yards for a touchdown to tie it at 7-7.
The teams were tied 14-14 at half, but Kentwood’s Isaiah Williams picked off a pass and returned it 28 yards to set up a 1-yard Sytsma TD with 9:54 left in the third quarter to give the Conks a 21-14 lead.
The Ravens clawed back and pulled even at 21-21 with 11:56 to play in the game on Cole Huckaby’s 3-yard TD on a toss play around left end.
The Conquerors missed an opportunity to take the lead with 2:39 left in the game, but Brandyn Bangsund’s 29-yard field attempt sailed just outside the left upright.
Kentwood can claim the division title with a win over Kentlake (3-4 league) next week, while the Ravens face Auburn (5-2) in its league finale.