Holt Scores in Last Minute, Hands East Lansing First Loss in Conference Play

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Saturday, October 5, 2019, 8:52 am
Mark Meyer

East Lansing sophomore quarterback Ambrose Wilson tries to avoid two Holt defenders during Friday night’s game at Jeff Smith Field. (Photos by Raymond Holt)

The proverbial turning point Friday night in the East Lansing football team’s 21-14 loss to Holt was not a slight dogleg left or a gradual veer to the right. It was a 180-degree about-face that carried the visiting Rams 82 yards to the winning touchdown as precious seconds ticked off the clock at Jeff Smith Field.

The winning drive, which began with just over five minutes to play, began at the Holt 18 yard line after the Trojans were stopped on a fourth-and two running play from just outside the visitors’ 20. The Rams quickly picked up yardage after the change of possession, moving the ball into East Lansing territory with the help of two 15-yard personal foul penalties on the Trojan defense.

With the ball resting at the East Lansing 23 and just under three minutes to play, Holt alternated handoffs between reserve quarterback JoJo Martinez and senior tailback Logan Vanenkenvort on the next seven plays. Martinez’s one-yard run with :33 remaining, followed by Jack Proebstle’s third extra point of the game, provided the margin of victory.

More photos from Friday's night game.

East Lansing, which played without injured senior quarterback Sam Busch, is now 4-2 overall, 2-1 in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue division. Holt, having lost to DeWitt 42-7 two weeks ago, is also 4-2 overall, 2-1 in the CAAC Blue.

“We have some size and we have some strength, and we thought we’d be able to use that,” said Holt head coach Chad Fulk. “We tried to pound, pound, pound … wear them out and keep the ball as long as we could.”

Vanenkenvort, who scored on nine-yard and one-yard touchdown runs in the first half, carried 34 times for 140 yards while Martinez finished with 15 carries for 59 yards. Martinez took over at quarterback with 4:29 left in the third quarter when Rams’ senior quarterback Zach O’Brien left the game with an injured right leg.

Holt running back Logan Vanenkenvort (with ball) gained 140 yards on 34 carries and scored two touchdowns in a 21-14 victory over East Lansing on Friday.

Holt shifted to a Wildcat formation with Martinez in the game, and Fulk was not surprised the way he was able to run the offense.

“We scored the winning touchdown against Hudsonville using that same offense,” Fulk said. “He (Martinez) was a little gimpy at the end but he hung in there and got us the yards we needed.”

Trojans score on first possession

East Lansing scored on its first possession by driving 56 yards on eight plays, with the bulk of the yardage gained by senior tailback T’Senre Gray and sophomore tailback Asher Gregory. The latter ran eight yards for the first Trojan touchdown barely three minutes into the game.

East Lansing sophomore running back Asher Gregory heads toward the end zone.

East Lansing remained scoreless for the remainder of the first half until sophomore quarterback Ambrose Wilson found junior receiver Andrel Anthony open near the left sideline for a 38-yard touchdown with 36 seconds left on the clock. Emory Roberts’ second point-after knotted the score at 14.

Wilson, making his first varsity start at quarterback, completed 11 of 17 passes for 134 yards. He threw one interception and also fumbled a snap at the East Lansing 30 yard line late in the first quarter that Holt recovered to set up its first touchdown.

“Not picking up the first down (in the fourth quarter) was critical,” said East Lansing head coach Bill Feraco. “I think Ambrose acquitted himself well. It’s a tough spot to be in, from a preparation standpoint. He worked at it very hard and overall he did a nice job.”

East Lansing will play two of its final three regular season games at home, including next week’s date with Everett.

“We had situations where we could control our own destiny, and unfortunately we didn’t take care of business,” Feraco said. “I still think we’re a pretty good football team, so we’ll regroup and move forward.”

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