KENT – The mountain looked impossible to climb.
The Kentwood Conquerors were doing nothing at all on offense for almost three quarters. It felt like a long season could be in store. Instead, the Conks showed a burst.
Kentwood came in a rush, scoring 22 points in the fourth quarter behind Brandon Sytsma’s 104 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the period. The end result for the Conks was a 29-19 reversal of fortune over Auburn on Friday at French Field.
“It took some serious determination to get this done,” said Sytsma, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior. “We kind of came out and we expected to roll ’em over like we did last year. We got what we weren’t expecting.
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“In my mind, I never thought we would lose and I kept telling my team that.”
The Conquerors (1-0) trailed 19-7 after three quarters. But the Conks found themselves in front 22-19 on Sytsma’s 21-yard touchdown run out of the wildcat formation on a direct snap with 3:29 to play.
Then, Sytsma sealed it with a 64-yard burst over right tackle to give Kentwood a 29-19 lead with 1:50 left in the game. That gave Sytsma 13 carries for 127 yards and two touchdowns overall.
“This was one of those emotional twists you go through as a coach, and one of the top ones,” said Kentwood coach Rex Norris, who lost 14 starters from 2012.
The Conquerors have now downed Auburn four seasons in a row.
The Trojans looked like the calmer, more-composed team early. They held a 9-0 lead thanks to a 14-yard touchdown keeper up the middle from quarterback Brier Atkinson and a safety at the 2:23 mark of the first quarter.
Auburn looked poised to go ahead 16-0 late in the first half after Kieo Buchanan muffed a punt return but recovered and sped 62 yards to the Kentwood 13-yard line. But on the first play from scrimmage, Ercle Terrell fumbled and Kentwood’s Kyle Capperauld scooped it up and raced 90 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown to trim the Trojan lead to 9-7 with three seconds left before halftime.
“We into halftime with a ton of confidence,” Sytsma said. “The fact we could play that bad only be down two was huge.”
Auburn had two touchdowns called back on penalties. The Trojans were flagged 12 times for 100 yards.