Football squanders late lead, drops tough 24-21 decision to host Aurora University on Saturday
On Saturday afternoon, the Alma College Football team took on host Aurora University in the first game of the inaugural MIAA/NAC Challenge. The visiting Scots let a late lead slip through their fingers and dropped a heartbreaking 24-21 decision to the Spartans, and Alma's record is now 0-3 on the season, while Aurora improved to 1-1 in 2012.
"We just had two bad turnovers in the fourth quarter that made the difference in the ballgame," said Alma Head Coach Greg Pscodna. "They had a fumble returned for a touchdown when they ripped the ball out of the hands of one of our young backs. Then we suffered an interception when we needed one more first down to wrap up the game. We got down early and fought back, but in the end, just couldn't make a play when we needed it in the fourth quarter."
After an Alma punt on their first drive of the game, Aurora took over with great field position at the Scots' 39-yard line because of a catching interference penalty. The Spartans then took five plays to cover the 39 yards and took a 7-0 lead on a 29-yard touchdown pass with 10:25 left in the quarter.
Aurora then took over on their own 11-yard line after another Alma punt and drove 76 yards on 11 plays, taking a 10-0 lead on a 30-yard field goal. The Scots then embarked on their most impressive drive of the 2012 season thus far that began in the first quarter and extended into the second.
A 17-play, 75-yard drive was culminated with a 12-yard touchdown run by Jr. WR Joey Jerisk (Burton, Mich./Bentley), and after a two-point conversion run by Jr. DL Austin Smith (Jackson, Mich./Lumen Christi), the Scots trailed 10-8. That two-point deficit would remain heading into halftime.
A scoreless third quarter ended with the visiting Scots on the march. Alma scored early in the final frame when Jr. QB Jarrett Leister (St. Louis, Mich./Mt. Pleasant) bullrushed forward for a one-yard touchdown on fourth and goal. After a two-point conversion failed, the Scots led 14-10 with 13:51 remaining in the game.
The Scots defense held the Spartans on the next drive of game and took possession on its own 23-yard line after a punt. On Alma's first play, Aurora defensive end Jerome Christmas literally ripped the ball out of the hands of Fr. RB Shannon Geren (Edon, Ohio/Edon) and ran 22 yards for a touchdown and a 17-14 Spartans lead.
The next drive by Alma stalled after one first down and Aurora took over on their own 23-yard line with 10:26 left in the game. On a third down play, Fr. LB Terry Calagon (Jackson, Mich./East Jackson) intercepted a pass, giving the Scots the ball at the Aurora 20-yard line. Four plays later, Jerisk rushed two yards for a touchdown and after the PAT, Alma led 21-17 with just over seven minutes remaining.
After forcing a punt by Aurora, the Scots looked poised to take control and close out the victory. The visitors earned one first down on the next drive and were more than likely one more away from the win. However, on a second and nine play, Leister was intercepted by the defense and the Spartans took over on the Alma 14-yard line after a subsequent personal foul penalty. Two plays later the Spartans converted a 10-yard touchdown throw and the home team led 24-21 with just 2:18 left in the game.
The Scots recorded one first down on their next drive but could not convert it into points, giving the ball back to the Spartans. Alma had one last chance after an Aurora punt, but the game ended on a 55-yard pass from Leister to So. WR Tyler Watters (Williamston, Mich./Williamston) that came up 25 yards short of the end zone.
Alma's 2012 season continues next Saturday afternoon when they host the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh at Bahlke Field. Kickoff for Community Day is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.