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Wednesday April 24, 2024
Gladstone Comeback Falls Short In Top Ten Battle

Click the thumbnails to see photos and videos taken by Brad Landis.

Also click the AUDIO buttons to hear post-game comments from receiver Kaden Gibbs, and Coach Craig Ness, along with player spotlight interviews with Tyler Darmogray and Johnny Soderman.

The Gladstone Braves football team rallied from a 22-0 deficit but that rally came up short in a loss to the Durand Railroaders, 28-24, Friday night in Gaylord.

It was a match-up between two undefeated teams, both ranked in the Top Ten in the Associated Press Michigan football Division Six poll.

And the teams, Gladstone from the Upper Peninsula and Durand from the Flint area in southeast Lower Michigan, met in the middle in Gatylotd. The Braves came in ranked third in the state, while the Railroaders came in ranked seventh.

The Railroaders, having their best season in two decades at 5-0, came in with a bruising ground game that imposed its will on the Braves defense. Seniors Charlie Rawlins and Gabe Lynn are among 19 starters returning from last year's team, along with fellow senior quarterback Austin Kelley. And they have a nice bunch of linemen in front of them.

On the first possession, the Braves had the Railroaders in a 2nd-and-17 at their own 23 yard-line when Rawlins broke free and took one to the house for a 73-yard touchdowm. The two-point conversion pass to Lynn made it 8-0 just 72 seconds into the game.

Gladstone went three-and-out, and after a short punt, Durand took over at midfield. The Railroaders converted a key 4th-and-8 on the Braves 35 yard-line on a 17-yard pass from Kelley to Lynn, and then Lynn punched it in from two yards out to make it 14-0.

The Braves got a pair of first down runs from Cole Potier on their next possession, but a bad snap and a screen pass that the Durand defense blew up led to the Braves turning it over on downs. Rawlins scampered for a 38-yard touchdown, and the Braves were down, 22-0.

But they did not fold. It took Gladstone just four plays to cover 65 yards, with Young finding Kaden Gibbs for a 27-yard touchdown pass. Gibbs, who broke a bone in his hand last week, played this game with a gigantic white protective "boot" pad on his hand, but that did not stop him. Gibbs also caught the two-point pass, making it a 22-8 game.

Gladstone had Durand in a 3rd-and-15 moments later, but Kelley threw a 21 yard pass to Mason Pancheck (another senior) for 21 yards and a first down in Braves territory. But the Gladstone defense stiffened and they stopped Lynn on a 4th-and-5 play.

Gladstone, in the two minute drill, moved down to the Durand 33 yard-line. Young heaved it into the end zone for Gibbs, who had two guys draped all over him. Somehow, Gibbs made the catch, with the two of the five fingers inside that big white glove, for a sensational touchdown with 22 seconds left in the half. Young them scrambled on the two-point play and eventually found Berthaume in the back of the end zone, making it a 22-16 game at the half.

The Braves got the ball first to start the second half, and Johnny Soderman took the kickoff back to the Durand 45 yard-line. Unfortunately, the Braves were called for a rare facemask penalty on the return, and then a couple of low snaps on offense meant the Braves had to punt from deep in their own territory.

The Railroaders got the ball on the Gladstone 35 after the short kick, and the defense stopped Rawlins a yard shy of the first down on the Gladstone 16 yard-line.

The Braves went to work on offense, with Potier breaking off a 59-yard run to the Railroader 35 yard line. Young then found Potier for a screen pass to the 17 yard-line, and then Young dumped it off to Tyler Darmogray inside the ten yard-line. Darmogray got to the three yard-line, kept fighting for the end zone, and got stripped. He fumbled and the Railroaders recovered at the one yard-line preventing the Braves from tying or taking the lead.

Then the Durrand offense put on a clinic.

The Railroaders pounded the ball methotically up field for a 99-yard drive that took 23 plays, all but one on the ground, and included them converting on a 4th and 1 at their own 22 yard-line, and on another 4th-and-1 at the Braves fiive yard-line. Lynn scored the TD from one yard out with 2:21 left, a drive that took a whoipping 13 minutes off of the clock.

Once again, Gladstone did not give up. Young tossed a 29-yard pass to Berthaume, then completed passes of 21 and 12 yards to Darmogray. On first down, Young found Soderman in the end zone for a 24-yard-touchdown pass witrh 1:10 left in the game. Young's pass to Soderman in the end zone for two points was good, making it 28-24.

But Gladstone, with two time outs remaining, needed to receive the on-side kick. And even on this artifical turf of Gaylord High School, Potier's kick wasn't even close, only making it six yards. Durand took over at the Gladstone 40 yard-line, needing to run out the clock.

The Railroaders did not want to knee it three times and give the Braves the ball even with, say, 15 seconds remaining because Gladstone had scored so quickly. But there wass almost a disaster for Durand when Kelley fumbled the bvall on second-and-seven.

Fortunately for the Railroaders, they recovered the football, and were able to run out the clock  on fourth down (even though Mitch Cartwight got credited for a ten-yard sack on the game's final play). In the end, Durand held on, and the Braves suffered their first loss.

Rawlins had 182 yarsd rushing on 19 carries and two long touchdowns. Lynn had 74 yards on 18 carries and two scores. Durand did not turn the ball over in the game.

For Gladstone, Young completed 13-of-15 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns, and he completed three two-point conversion passes. Potier carried seven times for 78 yards.

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