GWINN - Like a deft magician, the Gwinn High School football team pulled a win out of the proverbial hat Friday night.
Scoring twice within a 34-second span with time running out, the Modeltowners stunned visiting Westwood, 22-19, in a Mid-Peninsula Conference clash at McCormick Field.
"It's one of those glorious memories you don't get very often," GHS head coach Darren Sinnaeve said. "We needed that here big time."
Gwinn’s Cody Norman runs downfield as Westwood’s Marquise Baggiore closes in for the tackle in the second quarter in Gwinn on Friday. (Journal photo by Zach Jay)
Trailing 19-8, Modeltowners quarterback Justin Nyquist scored on a 27-yard run with 2:04 left. Then, Owen DeVooght ran back a recovered fumble 38 yards for the winning touchdown.
"We just gave the game away," Westwood head coach Jon Beckman said. "The kids played hard, but mistakes happen. It's just unfortunate."
After Nyquist's TD jaunt cut Westwood's lead to 19-16, the Modeltowners' Caleb Floars recovered an onside quick that bounced off the hands of a Westwood player with 1:58 left.
"It's a ball we should have had," Beckman said. "You can't make mistakes like that in crucial situations."
But Francois Montbrun - who scored twice for the Patriots - intercepted a Nyquist pass with 1:42 remaining, apparently sealing the Modeltowners' fate.
"Ordinarily - especially in a high school game - after a play like that, it's deflating," Sinnaeve said. "But I give our defense credit."
After a motion penalty on the Patriots, DeVooght scooped up the fumble and ran to the end zone to give Gwinn (2-4 overall, 1-2 M-PC) the startling victory.
"My tackle (C.J. Redfearn) stripped that ball (from a Westwood runner) so clean," DeVooght said. "I owe everything to C.J. I just took (the ball) off the ground and ran.
"I had a couple of (Patriots) grabbing on me and I had to spin around. I didn't want to stop.
"We never stop," he added. "We play to the last minute. We have a lot of heart."
Said Beckman, whose team is now 2-4 overall and 0-3 in the league: "What can you say? The stars aligned for Gwinn and it was one of those perfect storm situations."
Despite losing several starters to injury during the contest, the Patriots seemed poised to take the win.
Montbrun scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter after setting up the score with a 16-yard run, then gave the Patriots a 13-8 halftime lead with a diving TD catch of an 18-yard aerial from QB Nathan Clisch.
Pass receptions of 15 yards by Zachary Rankinen and 35 by Tyler Harvala set up the second Montbrun score.
"We settled in a little bit.
The offense played relatively well," Beckman. "So did the defense, despite having to switch some people around (due to injures)."
Rankinen gave the Patriots the 19-8 lead just 1:02 into the fourth quarter with a 4-yard scoring run. A pass interference penalty on Gwinn kept the 51-drive alive.
But the Modeltowners found a way to rally for the win.
"We played pretty physical tonight," Sinnaeve said. "The kids were down (at one point), but kept on fighting.
"I feel bad for Jon Beckman and his kids, though."
Rankinen finished with 100 yards rushing on 15 carries to lead the Patriots. Luke Sinnaeve (37 yards) and DeVooght (36) paced the Modeltowners on the ground.
"It feels good to get one on the right side of the (score)board," DeVooght said.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.