Fourth Quarter blitz gives Lions the win
The Packers made it a game for 3 quarters.
They even held an early lead when qb Payton Mansfield put the Pack on the board with a 6 yard run in the second quarter.
But the final frame proved to be the downfall for a spirited Fremont squad who made it known they would not be afraid of airing out the ball this season.
The game began with both teams shaking off the rust inherent in a season delayed by an uncertainty about even having a fall schedule and devoid of the usual scrimmages and noncon openers. Dropped passes, a few misguided hikes, a bit of the confusion that generally accompanies the first game all were in play early on but both teams settled in after the first quarter and both showed some flashes of what the season might bring.
After Mansfield’s score and a failed PAT the Lions went 3 and out and the hosts took over near midfield. After a Packer first down the Lion defense clamped down to force a punt but a high snap resulted in Newaygo taking possession deep into Packer territory. A pass interference call took the ball to the 14 and 2 plays later qb Brenden Brechting found a hole and ran it in from 13 yards to even the score. Ashton Stephens converted and the Lions went up 7-6.
Early in the second half Brechting found a speedy Remy Wells who crossed the goal line and with another successful conversion by Stephens put the Lions up 14-6.
But the Pack answered quickly thanks in part to a lengthy kickoff return by Elijah Shears. Four plays later Mansfield ran the quarterback draw to perfection for 6 then ran in the 2 point conversion and the score was knotted at 14.
Early in the 4th Brechting hit Eddie Hammond for paydirt and a 20-14 lead and 2 minutes later Wells scored again when he caught a pass on a slant pattern and turned on the burners for a 63 yard touchdown adding the 2 pointer to stretch the lead to 28-14. Fremont struggled to move the ball and Jarrod Wismar scored on the next Lion possession.
Lineman Hudson Harkness put the exclamation point on the game as he picked off a pass and using the cross country practice experience he gained earlier when the football season was in jeopardy took it 60 yards for the final score of the evening.
The game was a battle between two teams who fielded much different squads from when they faced each other a year ago and both should improve markedly as the season progresses and the younger players gain more experience.
The Packer air game will be helped immensely by a reduction in the number of dropped passes witnessed in the opener and Mansfield looks to have opportunities to run as well behind a rejuvenated offensive line.
The Lions looked like they were in mid season form in the second half and will likely be getting some major contributions from their group of talented underclassmen.