After West Ottawa’s two-point attempt in overtime failed, the Grand Haven players jumped up in down in celebration, as if they had already won Friday’s Homecoming showdown against the Panthers.
One play later, it was the Panthers who were celebrating the victory as the Buccaneers’ players stared in disbelief.
Haven senior Abe Westerman, who made countless gutsy plays on both sides of the ball throughout the game, had the football jarred loose on the Bucs’ first play in overtime, and the Panthers recovered.
That gave visiting West Ottawa a thrilling 20-14 victory, and sent a huge Buccaneers’ Homecoming crowd home disappointed.
“I’m just proud of our guys for fighting,” said Panthers’ coach Rory Zegunis, whose team improves to 1-1 in O-K Red play and 4-2 overall. “Two things happened tonight. One, we were off, but two, hats off to Grand Haven. Every time we come here, it’s a battle. It’s the O-K Red. Every week, you’ve got tom come to play.”
On the opposite sideline, the Buccaneers were left to agonize over what would have been a defining victory in the midst of a disappointing season.
“I’m just really proud of the kids,” said Bucs’ coach Mike Farley, whose team is now 1-5 overall and 0-2 in league play. “They fought hard. We showed a lot of resiliency on the field.”
Read more of this story in today's print edition or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.