Fourth-quarter rally leads Otsego past Three Rivers on gridiron
For the first three quarters of its Wolverine Conference clash with Three Rivers on Friday, Sept. 13, Otsego struggled to find an offensive groove.
The fourth quarter was a different story.
Ashton Atwater rushed for a pair of touchdowns in the final stanza to erase a seven-point deficit and lead the Bulldogs to the 21-14 win in comeback fashion.
The win upped Otsego’s record to 2-1, while Three Rivers remained winless at 0-3.
“We weren’t playing like we are capable of, especially in the first half,” Otsego coach John Kubiak said. “I thought we played with better energy in the second half, but we still could not get things going offensively and the third quarter went by fast.
“Once the fourth quarter started, our team seemed to calm down and things started to get in sync offensively.”
Atwater’s first scoring run covered nine yards and pulled Otsego to within 14-13 as the extra-point attempt failed. Atwater then scored from one yard out and Jaxsen Callaway made good on the conversion run to make it 21-14 in Otsego’s favor.
Atwater ended the game with 193 rushing yards on 23 attempts for an average of 8.4 yards per attempt. His longest run of the game covered 75 yards.
“We continue to get him the ball and he is getting better with each carry,” Kubiak said of Atwater. “He had some very good runs late in the game and on the last two scoring drives. It was a great performance by him and our offense in general.”
Otsego got the scoreboard first when quarterback Owen Watson found Callaway for a 12-yard TD toss in the opening quarter. Jack Waters followed with the extra-point kick to make it 7-0.
But Three Rivers got two second-quarter touchdown runs from Parker Ellifrtiz—the first nine yards and the second three yards—followed by extra-point kicks from Braydon Selent to go up 14-7.
And that’s where the score stayed until the Atwater-led comeback in the fourth quarter.
“It was good to see the kids respond late and come from behind to get the win,” Kubiak said. “It’s always great to come out of Three Rivers with a win.”
The Otsego defense limited Three Rivers to 145 total yards while forcing five turnovers.
“Our defense continues to play well,” Kubiak said. “We need to continue to work on playing team defense as the season goes along, but I like what we have going right now.”
Watson led the defensive charge with 10 total tackles, followed by Peyton Bohl, Atwater, T. Knight and Nate Bargwegen with five each. Derek Ward had an interception and a fumble recovery.