COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. (WOOD) — Until Friday night, Forest Hills Eastern hadn’t won five games in an entire season since 2010. This year, it only took five games to do it.
Eastern (5-0) hung on to beat Northview 34-21 at Fifth Third Ballpark in the OK-Bronze opener for both teams.
Northview’s defense kept the Wildcats (2-3) in the game in the first half. Zeke Tyler and Nate Morris both intercepted Eastern quarterback Jack Clark late in the first half, keeping the deficit at halftime to 14-7.
Clark rebounded in the second half, finding Chase Krueger for a 66-yard touchdown to give Forest Hills Eastern a 20-7 lead late in the third quarter. The score was the biggest play of the night for the Hawks.
Clark finished with 127 yards on 8 of 16 passing. He added a touchdown on the ground to go with his two passing scores.
After falling behind two scores in the second half, Northview didn’t give up. Facing 4th and goal from inside the one yard line on the final play of the third quarter, quarterback Zach Pangborn jumped over his offensive line and into the end zone. The score cut Eastern’s lead to 20-14.
Eastern bounced back just more than a minute into the fourth quarter, when Caden Peters scored on a 39-yard run down the right sideline, pushing the lead to 27-14.
Pangborn battled back again for Northview, scoring on a 5-yard run to make it 27-21 with 6:33 left in the game. Pangborn ended the night with 65 yards rushing, 79 yards passing and three total touchdowns.
When Northview needed a stop on defense most, they didn’t get it. After a great kickoff return, Eastern marched down a short field for another score. Jake Sypniewski capped off the 38-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run for the game’s final score with 2:55 left.
Sypniewski ended the night with 36 yards receiving, 34 yards rushing, two touchdowns and two interceptions on defense.
“Jake is a great player,” Eastern Head Coach Eddie Ostipow said. “He is a guy who is capable of taking over a game for us.”
When asked after the game if he’d rather get a touchdown or interception, Sypniewski said, “I’d rather get a win.”
Eastern hasn’t seen success like this on the football field in several years. After going to the playoffs five times between 2005-2010, Eastern compiled a 12-24 record over the past four seasons – without making a single trip to the playoffs.
Eastern wasn’t perfect Friday night. Three turnovers kept the game close, but the Hawks were able to overcome those errors.
“I like how we’re winning,” Ostipow said. “Sometimes we’ve won big – but we’ve also won close games. That to me is telling that we have some character and some kids with grit.”
Both teams continue OK-Bronze play next week. Forest Hills Eastern plays Greenville. Northview will take on Wyoming.