GRAND BLANC — Brighton junior Rudy Ramirez wasn’t fazed by the moment. Even after Grand Blanc called two timeouts in an effort to get him to think about it.
Finally, Ramirez lined up to kick a 34-yard field goal in the final minute of Friday’s game.
“I felt pretty comfortable,” Ramirez said. “I wasn’t too nervous until I was actually kicking the ball. … When it hit it, I thought it was a little short, but then I watched it and I realized it had a little leg.”
More than enough, as it turned out. The kick was good, and it was the winning kick in a come-from-behind 20-19 win over the Bobcats.
Click here for the broadcast of the first half. Technical problems ended the broadcast early.
The game wasn’t over with the kick. Grand Blanc appeared to see its hopes finished on a last-second Hail Mary from the Brighton 46, but a Brighton penalty put the ball at the 31 for an untimed down.
The Bulldogs defense held and Kevin Coriasso’s final pass fell incomplete, sealing Brighton’s win.
The finish was as exciting as the beginning, with both offenses showing what they could do.
Grand Blanc scored on its first drive, giving the ball to halfback Andre Mason six times for 76 yards, the last carry a 23-yard score.
But the Bulldogs came right back, driving to the Grand Blanc 29 before Ramirez kicked a 46-yard field goal.
“I didn’t know how long it was until someone told me,” Ramirez said. “I didn’t think it was that far at all.”
Grand Blanc coach Joe Delaney was impressed.
“They have a hell of a weapon with that kicker,” he said.
After Grand Blanc’s next drive stalled, the Bulldogs came back to take the lead on Will Jontz’s 24-yard touchdown run in the final seconds of the first quarter.
Brighton took a 10-7 lead at halftime, and it stayed that way until early in the third quarter, when Mason scored again from 33 yards out to give Grand Blanc a 13-10 lead. After a Brighton punt pinned the Bobcats deep in their own territory, Mason went up the middle for 90 yards and a score that gave Grand Blanc a 19-10 lead.
But a 2-point conversion attempt failed, which proved costly.
“You can’t miss extra points,” Delaney said. “That forced us to go for two and we didn’t complete it. Now you’re done a couple points you should have had. They should be guaranteed points, and we’re not getting those guaranteed points.”
Not a lot was guaranteed in the game except tough defense. The Bulldogs struggled to move the ball until midway through the fourth quarter, when Jontz and Cameron Tullar combined to get the offense moving on a 13-play, 71-yard drive that ended when Luke Helwing bowled over a Bobcat defender to score from 4 yards out.
“It’s all about good blocking,” Helwing said. “There was a huge hole, and then all I had to do was hit the guy to get in. Joe Salvato and Kyle Sanderson popped that hole, and so did the whole line.”
An onside kick was unsuccessful, and Grand Blanc drove from the Brighton 47 down to the 20, when the Bulldogs stripped the ball from Grand Blanc’s Matthew Stork. Jack Aigner recovered, and Brighton had new life.
“That fumble recovery completely changed the game, 100 percent,” Helwing said.
The ensuing drive covered 63 yards and was aided by a pass interference penalty. The final play, a 23-yard completion to Braydon Ebberskotte, put the ball at the Grand Blanc 17, leading to a thrilling finish.
“It feels fantastic to come out of that game with a win,” Brighton coach Brian Lemons said. “The fashion that we won is even better for our team. It really supports what we’ve been trying to tell the kids all year, that winning as a team is the only way to do it.”