by Robert Youngs, Jr.
It took nearly three hours and four overtimes, but the Kalamazoo College football team earned a win over Manchester at the newly renovated Angell Field on Saturday, 18-16.
In front of 2,768 fans, the Hornets (2-0) finally finished the job in the fourth overtime on a five-yard touchdown pass from Aaron McGuire to running back Dan Grost. Josh Wise caught the game-winning two-point conversion from McGuire to finally lift K to victory.
"Our job is to get open," said Wise. "McGuire made something happen with his feet and saw me open in the end zone."
Kalamazoo College leaned on its defense for most of the contest, with big defensive efforts from Jake Larioza, Ian Good, and Alan Mencer shining through in the overtime period. Miscues by Manchester also kept the Hornets in the contest, as the Spartans were flagged for false start and illegal formation penalties in the second and third overtimes, respectively.
"Our defense saved us so many times in this game," said McGuire, who was 25 of 38 passing for 240 yards and one touchdown with a long of 68 yards.
"I'm proud of our team and the way they fought," said Hornets' coach Jamie Zorbo. "They never gave up. They never stopped believing; that's what good football teams do."
After a scoreless first half, K forced the Spartans to a three-and-out on its first drive of the third quarter. The Hornets then took the ball nine plays and 70 yards to pay dirt as Dimeko Price punched the ball in on the ground from nine yards away to cap the drive.
Instrumental to the scoring drive was a big, 24-yard gain on a pass from McGuire to Mikael Lott. Also key was a pass interference penalty assessed to Manchester's Alex Wormuth on a third and seven play.
The teams traded empty drives until 7:52 remaining in regulation, when the Spartans' Austin Adams ran virtually untouched into the end zone from 18 yards away. Manchester tied it on a Kyle Evans extra point kick.
It seemed as if the Hornets would win in regulation after the long, 68-yard pass play from McGuire to Lott, but a field goal attempt sailed wide.
In the overtime, the Hornets defense held Manchester to a 27-yard field goal by Evans and the offense got Braun in position to tie it on the next possession from 35 yards away.
"I've never seen our defense play that great," said McGuire. "They won this game for us. It wasn't our offense."
Braun and Evans traded field goal misses in the third overtime period. Manchester finally struck gold on a pass from Logan Haston to Lance Shifferly for 26 yards and a touchdown. The Hornets defense came up with a big hit to deny the conversion try.
A 10-yard pass completion to Jimmy Frye and a completion to Lott for eight keyed the Hornets' game-winning drive.
Price rushed 21 times for 153 yards and a long of 42. Lott grabbed five receptions for 111 yards and the long of 68. Frye also had five grabs for 50 yards.
Dylan Zerki led the Kalamazoo defense with nine total tackles, including two for loss with a quarterback sack. Ryan Gregory reecorded eight tackles while Jake Larioza and Blake Simon had seven apiece. Larioza also had a sack.
Punter Gray Vreeland also assisted the Hornets' defensive effort with five punts for 173 yards and an average of 34.6 yards with a long of 45.
After christening the new home turf with a win, the Hornets will take to the road to face Lakeland (Wis.) on Sept. 14 and Center (Ky.) on Sept. 22 before returning home to face Trine on Sept. 29 in the MIAA opener.
"We've got two opportunities to get better in non-league play before we get into league play," said Zorbo.