Despite getting shutout offensively, the Harper Creek Beavers edged the Gull Lake Blue Devils 15-14 in their season opener from Richland. Two interception touchdowns from senior cornerback Dom Gibson, plus a fourth quarter blocked extra point, allowed the Beavers to sneak by.
Gibson started the Beaver scoring on Gull Lake’s opening drive, intercepting a fourth down pass in the end zone and returning it 102 yards. In the second quarter, the Blue Devils held possession for nearly 11 minutes between two drives, capping off a 72-yard drive with 7:18 remaining on a two-yard Thomas Vandermolen run. Gull Lake aggressively went for the two-point conversion and succeeded on a pass from Hunter Synder to Niner Stark, giving them an 8-7 lead which held into halftime.
After trading punts to start the third, Gibson intercepted Synder again, this time going 40 yards for the score. Harper Creek went for two and matched Gull Lake’s success, with Jackson Malone passing to Jon Taylor. Gull Lake’s next drive went seven minutes and 13 plays with two successful fourth-down conversions. However, their third try was denied, stopping them 18 yards from the end zone.
The Blue Devil defense continued to hold Harper Creek and forced a quick punt, but Gull Lake punted right back midway through the fourth quarter. The Beavers then committed their lone turnover on a fumble, recovered to the Beaver 25-yard line by John Volesky.
With 5:28 remaining, Snyder found Stark in the end zone for a 23-yard Gull Lake touchdown pass. Tanner Novak’s extra-point kick was blocked by linebacker Dakota Walbeck, which ultimately gave Harper Creek the one-point victory. The Beaver run game came alive on the final drive, getting four first downs to run out the remaining time for the 15-14 win.
Unofficially, Gull Lake out-gained Harper Creek offensively 207 to 133. Hunter Synder went 8-17 for 105 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Volesky led all rushers with 56 yards. Beaver quarterback Jackson Malone and halfback Dawson Barlett each had 53 rushing.
Harper Creek begins Interstate 8 Conference play on Thursday with a trip to Jackson Northwest. Gull Lake hosts Portage Northern Thursday for a SMAC East vs West contest. Listen back to Friday’s game below: