GRAND LEDGE – Antonio Rush and the Grand Ledge football team were on a mission to start building some positive momentum after a season-opening loss.
They did just that in a matchup that was dubbed one of the biggest games in the Lansing area this fall.
Rush ran for a pair of scores, including the go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter, as the Comets posted a 28-21 victory over DeWitt on Thursday night at Grand Ledge High School in a matchup of two of the area’s best teams and defending league champions.
“Any win is great, and then you play a program that is well coached and has got the history that our two programs have got – to be able to get that win – that’s special,” Grand Ledge coach Matt Bird said.
Rush ran for 143 yards – 121 in the second half – to help Grand Ledge (1-1) earn the victory and gain some momentum going into next week’s CAAC Blue opener against Sexton.
“It really helped us build our confidence,” said Rush, who has four rushing touchdowns through two games in his senior season. “It was a pretty huge win. We started off the season with a loss against Hudsonville so we decided to come back this week and be hungry and come out here and get our first win. That’s exactly what we did.”
Jacob Umholtz, who played at DeWitt last season, and Zach Willoughby also had touchdowns for the Comets. Willoughby caught a TD pass from Nolan Bird, who was 10 of 18 passing and threw for 209 yards.
Grand Ledge’s defense had four interceptions and came up with some big stops – including stopping DeWitt for the final time in the last minute of the contest to seal the victory.
Senior Xavier Farr played a big role in the stops the Comets made and had three interceptions – all in the second half. Nathan Eckhardt also had an interception.
“Three interceptions – that’s pretty nice,” Rush said. “You don’t hear about that very much in high school, so that was pretty sweet.
“Those interceptions were very good momentum changers. They really changed the game. When DeWitt thought they had momentum, the interceptions deflated them.”
JD Ross had two touchdowns – both in the third quarter – and an interception for DeWitt (1-1). Both Ross’ scores helped the Panthers pull even with Grand Ledge, but the Panthers weren’t able to get the stops necessary to earn the victory.
“It comes down to turnovers and it comes down to the plays we need to make,” Ross said. “We had that long pass where no one was covering (their guy). We’ve got to make that play. It comes down to (things like) that, but I still think our team gave 110 percent effort. It’s a tough one, but I liked (playing in) that game. It was a good game.”
Ross, who had 69 yards rushing and 72 yards receiving, believes Thursday’s loss is one that will be beneficial for the Panthers down the road.
“It was awesome because we get to see a great team and we get to have that game in our minds moving forward, possibly in the playoffs and possibly later in the season,” Ross said. “Hopefully that’s going to give us that edge to get over those tough teams like (Grand Ledge).”
Contact Brian Calloway at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.