Braves edge SSM

Rob Roos | Sault Evening News Gladstone quarterback Cam Kelly takes the snap against Sault Ste. Marie Friday night. Kelly ran for three touchdowns in the Braves’ 28-26 win over the Blue Devils.

SAULT STE. MARIE — Last week the Gladstone Braves came back from a two-touchdown deficit.

In their second game, the Braves had to hold on after going up two scores, but they still came away with another 2-point win. Gladstone downed Sault Ste. Marie 28-26 on its homecoming night Friday at VanCitters Field.

Braves junior quarterback Cam Kelly rattled off three long touchdown runs. Gladstone’s defense accounted for their other TD, as Cole Portier returned a fumble 40 yards to the end zone.

“Our kids have a lot of grit and resilience, I would say that’s a trademark of this group,” Gladstone coach Jeff Hansen said. “The Sault really kicked our tails in the second quarter and scored a lot of points. But we still had time to respond, and our players do a good job of staying at an even keel. They stayed calm and kept playing.

“A lot of peaks and valleys in that game tonight,” Hansen said. “It was a tremendous high school ball game between two good teams at a time when so much is going on all around us. I’m just grateful that we were able to do this. Both teams put it all out on the line. It’s so good for both communities to have football.”

Gladstone led 14-0 in the first quarter. Kelly had a TD run of 60 yards on the fourth play of the game, and Portier had the scoop and score on the Sault’s first possession.

The Blue Devils got their running game going and marched up and down the field on their next several possessions. The Sault answered with a 2-yard TD run from Kris Pearce late in the first quarter, while John Robinson had touchdown runs of 32 and 7 yards in the second quarter to put the Sault up 20-14.

Kelly came back again to find open field and raced for a 65-yard TD run with 1:23 left in the second quarter.

The lead changed hands one more time before the half. Sault High scored on the final play of the second quarter as quarterback Jakob Davie threw an 8-yard TD pass to freshman tight end Callen Campbell as time ran out in the half. Sault High led 26-20 at intermission.

Gladstone regained the lead after Kelly scored for a third time, this one on a 54-yard run in the third quarter. Cam Ballard added the conversion run to give the Braves a 28-26 lead.

The Braves defense slowed the Sault run game in the second half and came away with two more turnovers — one fumble and one interception.

The Blue Devils, who were coming off big wins over Traverse City St. Francis and Marquette, dipped to 2-1.

“We didn’t really give up a sustained drive, but their quarterback made three big plays. And, we bit on all of them,” Sault High coach Scott Menard said. “You can’t spot any team 14 points and then hope you’ll have enough effort to come back and play at a high level the rest of the game. When it was all over, we looked like the team that had just started practicing last week and not them. It was an ugly game for us, which is unfortunate because we played two really good games up to this point.

“Last week the Marquette coach said this about us, and I’ll say it now about Gladstone — they looked like they wanted it more than we did tonight,” Menard said. “We only lost by two points, but that’s just as frustrating. Sometimes you’d rather lose by 20 than by two. We missed on some 2-point conversions that came back to cost us. The bottom line for us is that we still have a lot of work to do. We have to go back to the drawing board and get ready for Benzie next week.”

Gladstone visits Kingsford next Friday. Sault High is at home again, facing Benzie Central next Friday.


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