Prep football: Broncos stood up on goal line in final seconds

HARRIS – Close only counts in horseshoes, hand-grenades, and apparently, Bark River-Harris Broncos football.

In a Mid-Eastern conference game of momentum shifts and turnovers from start to finish, the Newberry Indians managed to maintain a 12-0 lead into the fourth quarter. However, the Broncos chipped away at the lead and kept pushing until they were literally inches away from a touchdown that would’ve given them the victory. But there just wasn’t enough time left to punch it in, and Newberry seized the 12-8 victory.

“That was unbelievable,” said Indians coach Fred Bryant. “They’re sitting at the 1-yard line with three plays to punch it in, and I’m starting to look through my offense to see what we can do to score with 20 seconds to go.

“I couldn’t believe how things came down. You hate to be on the losing end of that game, but it feels great to be on the other side of it at the same time. But hats off to Bark River for not quitting on that drive.”

BR-H earned their first score on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Jorden Sodergren to Messersmith, then Brian Latta ran in the two-point conversion to make it 12-8.

The Indians marched downfield on the ensuing drive, making it to their own 22-yard line before Messersmith came up with a huge strip of the football with 3:26 remaining in the contest.

The Broncos took possession at their own 15-yard line, but Newberry gave them plenty of help along the way. A facemask penalty brought them near their own 30, and after a late-hit call, BR-H suddenly found themselves at midfield.

After three straight incomplete passes, things were looking grim for the Broncos. But on 4th down, Sodergren found Messersmith open downfield and threw an absolute laser for a 40-yard gain, bringing them to their own 10 with 1:14 left on the clock.

Alex Mathias ran it along the sideline to the Broncos’ 1-yard line, and it seemed a victory was all but in hand. However, it followed with a 4-yard loss and a run for no gain. Just like that, the Broncos were facing 4th and goal from the 5.

Sodergren took it on the quarterback keeper, punching forward for two yards before he was brought down with just one second remaining on the clock. Newberry celebrated, then quarterback John Paramski kneeled for the game’s final play.

“This one is my loss,” said Broncos coach Al Stenberg. “These guys deserved to win this game. They fought their way back and down at the end I thought I had a time-out left, so I called two plays. Then there was nothing on the board, and it just went bad.

“We had a minute and four plays to get it in the end zone, and that’s our game. We should have won the game.”

Stenberg added that he feels this is the best football the Broncos have played this year and probably last year as well.

“We made some mistakes, but we also sured some things up as well,” he said. “If we take away those mistakes, we win this football game. It’s just a shame, and I feel terrible about it.”

Newberry scored in the second quarter on a two-yard run by Chris Ducsay, missing the two-point conversion. They also scored on their first drive of the third quarter on a 20-yard TD pass from Paramski to Darik Marsh.

The Broncos resume Friday at Gwinn, while Newberry hosts Munising.