HOPKINS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A controversial call proved to be the difference in the O-K Silver Conference opener between Belding and Hopkins.
Trailing by one point in the fourth quarter, Belding’s punt returner fumbled behind the goal line and was tackled for a safety. It gave the Vikings a one-point lead and was eventually the difference in a 37-35 final.
Belding’s head coach Joe Schwander yelled repeatedly from the sideline “that’s the incorrect call.” The referees discussed the call but didn’t change it.
“It was one of the craziest plays I’ve ever been a part of,” Hopkins wide receiver Bryce Smith said. “It was a huge play and got our whole bench going.”
Vikings head coach Cody Francis said the win meant a lot after the past battles he’s coached in with Belding.
“All of the last four years, the game has come down to a last drive or been a one-score game,” Francis said. “Just last year we lost by one point and to pull off a one point win this year feels great.”
The Black Knights’ running back Nick Heintzelman started his big game with the first score of the night from three yards out midway through the first quarter.
Hunter Lewellyn had an immediate answer. The Hopkins wide receiver took the ensuing kickoff to the house for a score, making it 7-7.
Hopkins wideout Riley Hart would score a touchdown on an end around to make it 14-7, but the Vikings’ Colin Weber would score just minutes later to tie the game at 14 in the second quarter.
Vikings quarterback Nolan Smith found wide receiver Smith for the game’s first passing touchdown. It was 21-14 Hopkins late in the second quarter.
Heintzelman returned the favor on a kickoff return touchdown to make the game 21-20 following a missed extra point attempt. That would be the score at halftime.
Following another Belding score, Smith found running back Colin Weber for a fade route in the left corner of the end zone to make the score 28-27 with Belding still leading.
“My receivers did a great job of getting open all night,” Smith said. “They went out and got the balls I gave them a chance to catch, that’s all I can ask.”
The Black Knights would add a late score on Hart’s third touchdown of the game, but it was too late as they failed to recover an onside kick.
“(Belding) is a very good team and coach Joe does a great job with them,” Francis said. “I was very proud of how resilient my men were tonight. We made big plays when we needed to and the defense stepped up in the second half.”