BATTLE CREEK — Trailing No. 2 Ponca by 10 points with four minutes left in Friday’s Class C-2 football quarterfinal, the fourth-ranked Battle Creek Braves needed a rally worthy of ESPN’s Instant Classics.
And that’s exactly what they got.
Austin Marx blocked a Ponca punt that Slate Kraft picked up and returned for a score with 3:43 to go, then Stone Kraft caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Ty Heimes with 1:27 to go as Battle Creek shocked the Indians 24-20 at Bob Schnitzler Field.
With Friday’s win, Battle Creek (8-3) advances to next Friday’s Class C-2 semifinals and a rematch with Yutan (8-3). Battle Creek beat the Chieftains 14-12 in the season opener on Aug. 25.
The Braves still trailed Ponca 20-17 after Slate Kraft’s scoop-and-score, but forced a punt to get the ball back at their own 45 in the game’s closing minutes. Heimes completed 3 of 4 passes for 51 yards on that drive, including the go-ahead score to Stone Kraft that made it 24-20.
The Indians (10-1) got the ball back and got as far as midfield, but Stone Kraft made an interception in his own territory on the game’s final play to ice the victory.
Ponca.............0 14 6 0 — 20
Battle Creek....7 0 3 14 — 24
BC: Ty Heimes 1 run (Ryan Brauer kick), 2:39.
P: Dalton Tremayne 8 run (run failed), 5:10.
P: Connor Day 4 run (Dalton Tremayne run), 2:18.
BC: Ryan Brauer 25 field goal, 9:04.
P: Carter Kingsbury 72 interception return (PAT failed), 4:06.
BC: Slate Kraft 20 blocked punt return (Ryan Brauer kick), 3:43.
BC: Stone Kraft 29 pass from Ty Heimes (Ryab Brauer kick), 1:27.