2018-09-17 / Sports

North Branch thwarted by Almont in first loss of season

By Kylee Richardson
810-452-2632 • krichardson@mihomepaper.com

North Branch’s Josh Boyne looks for a hole against Almont on Friday. Photo by Austin VanDaele North Branch’s Josh Boyne looks for a hole against Almont on Friday. Photo by Austin VanDaele ALMONT — North Branch football was pinned with its first loss of the season after Almont took a 42-6 win on Friday night in a battle to stay undefeated. Almont grabbed a 22-0 lead in the opening quarter and never looked back.

With 5:29 left in the first quarter, Almont struck first as Colton Kruse ran back a 43-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion was no good though, giving Almont a 6-0 lead. Almont then added a pair of back-to-back receiving touchdowns and a pair of successful two-point conversions, the first on a 61-yard pass to Michael Lulgjuraj and the second on a 55-yard reception by Jace Rinke.

Almont’s Jack Paupert extended the score to 28-0 at 7:41 in the second as he hit pay dirt on a 3-yard scamper. With just two seconds remaining the half, North Branch finally got on the board after Gerrid Rutledge found the hands of Josh Boyne on a 23-yard pass, but failed to convert the extra two for a 28-6 score at the intermission.

In the third quarter, Paupert added his second touchdown of the night on a 10-yard carry. Almont added the extra two on a run by Kruse. At 7:22 in the third, Corey Webster closed out the scoring effort with a 7-yard touchdown run for the 42-6 final.

“We came out and played very disciplined tonight against a team that hides the ball very well,” said Almont coach James Leusby. “The boys came out and played as though it was any other game even though we were playing another undefeated team. We had another great crowd that helped propel us as usual.”

Almont put up 355 yards of offense while holding North Branch to just 165 yards. The Raiders were able to put a stop to North Branch’s usually dominant run game, holding the Broncos to just 82 yards on the ground.

Josh Hellebuyck was 4-for-5 through the air for 158 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Lulgjuraj was on the receiving end of two passes for 70 yards. Rinke caught one for 55 yards and Colby Schapman added a catch for 33 yards.

Rinke also added 56 yards on the ground on six carries. Kruse had a single carry for 43 yards and a touchdown. Lulgjuraj had 35 yards on six carries. Paupert added 22 yards on four carries and Austin Cody had 21 yards on four carries as well.

Colton Kruse and Jacob Hausmann led the Raiders defense with five tackles each. Meric Okoniewski and Nolan Panduren had four each.

On the North Branch side, Rutledge was 6-of-16 for 58 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Boyne caught three passes for 54 yards and a touchdown and added 38 yards on eight carries. Christian Coy had 30 yards on the ground on eight carries and caught one pass for eight yards. Drake Deshetsky had five carries for 10 yards. Nate Farnsworth had a pair of receptions for 29 yards.

Farnsworth also led the defense with eight tackles. Kyle Kleinknecht and Lawson Rutledge added three tackles each.

Almont, 4-0, is at Croswell-Lexington on Friday and North Branch, 3-1, is at Algonac.

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