Brendan Bice had a big play on a third-down conversion and added the winning score as the Spartans beat the Conquerors 21-14.
There were plenty of chances to roll over.
The season started out forgettable for senior Brendan Bice. It was headed that same direction for the Skyline High School football team.
But in an instant, Bice turned forgettable into memorable.
Bice raced 54 yards on a shovel pass from quarterback Joe Green to keep the winning drive alive on third-and-4. He barreled in for a 1-yard touchdown run to give Skyline a 21-14 win over Kentwood in a nonleague season opener on Friday night at Skyline High School.
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The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Bice put Skyline on top with 3 minutes, 34 seconds left in the game after the Spartans allowed Kentwood to tie it 14-14 after the Conquerors were down two scores.
“That play is one of those plays where you’re either going to bust one out, or you’re going to get just stuffed,” said Bice, who finished with six catches for 100 yards and 11 carries for 17 yards. “We tried that play in the beginning of the game, and we ended up losing about five yards. Luckily enough our coaches saw something great.
“They had trust in me and my O-line to make something happen.”
Bice’s score put the exclamation point on an effort from the Conquerors, who racked up 265 yard rushing. Leading the visitors’ charge was junior Gabriel Johnson, who ran 30 times for 185 yard and a TD.
“The kids continued to fight and didn’t give up,” Skyline coach Mat Taylor said.
Skyline jumped on top 6-0 in the opening eight seconds thanks to a short opening kickoff into the right flat. The Spartans’ Kellen Hoke gathered in the ball and tight-roped down the left sidelines for a 56-yard touchdown return to start the game.
It wasn’t until 1:26 remained in the first half until Skyline hiked its lead to 14-0. Harvard commit Joe Green fired a 14-yard TD strike to Chris Johnson in the back of the end zone.
The second score for the Spartans came after another Kentwood miscue, this time a muffed punt that led to a recovery from Austin Skoglund at the Conquerors’ 43-yard line.
Johnson crashed into the end zone, going over left tackle for the TD that helped the Conks’ knot the score at 14-14 with 2:20 left in the third quarter.
“Early in the game I was not having the night I was hoping to have, “ Bice said. “I was mostly getting 1- and 2-yard carries. In that second half, it kind of clicked me for me and I helped this team.”