By Mike Moore Photo: Ryan Kerwin, JTV Sports
Detroit — He was stopped until he wasn’t, wrapped up until he was free.
When Sebastian Toland took a second-down handoff early in the fourth quarter Friday night, all seemed relatively normal as a pair of defenders surrounded and slowed him down.
By the time this innocent-looking play came to an end, Toland was in the end zone and Lumen Christi was on its way to a Division 6 state championship.
“It feels so great,” Toland, Lumen Christ’s star running back said following the 40-34 victory over Ithaca at Ford Field in the D-6 championship. The Titans defended a previous title for the third time in program history.
“Every one of these is great,” Lumen coach Herb Brogan said simply. “You have new kids and it’s a new team. This never gets old.”
The game was tight early on, with each team’s defense setting the tone.
Lumen got the only touchdown of the first quarter on a 72-yard run from Nick Thomas for an 8-0 lead after a successful 2-point conversion with 3:13 to play in the frame.
Ithaca got on the board when Devin Barnes hauled in a 47-yard pass from Joey Bentley to make it 8-6, and then took the lead on a 51-yard run by Joey Bentley for a 13-6 advantage at halftime.
Things all changed in the third as Lumen’s offense did what it does, getting the running game up to speed.
“We didn’t have to pass at all,” Brogan said with a laugh. “When you have the two or three explosive backs like we do, it allows you to run the ball the way we wanted to.”
Kyle Minder scored on a four-yard run with 5:31 to play in the frame and then scored from 43 yards out with 41 seconds remaining in the frame for a 24-13 lead heading into the fourth.
Toland’s 80-yard run just 1:12 into the fourth gave Lumen a 32-13 lead and officially started the celebration in the stands.
Ithaca wouldn’t go away, though, and scored roughly a minute later on a 19-yard pass.
Minder answered five plays later when he scored a third touchdown, this time on a 63-yard run midway through the fourth.
Colton Campbell hauled in a 29-yard pass from Bentley to make it 40-27, and Ithaca pulled within six with 2:27 remaining when Bentley hit Adam Culp with a 17-yard touchdown pass.
Lumen (12-1) recovered the ensuing onside kick and then secured its 10th title in program history.
“I’m glad the clock ran out when it did,” Brogan said with a laugh.
Toland was the unofficial Most Valuable Player, rushing 33 times for 244 yards on the night, most of which came in the second half.
His 244 yards was the second most in finals history.
“It was all mental,” he said about a slow start and fast finish to the night. “I came back out (from halftime) relaxed and focused on my keys.”
As for his long runs, including the 80-yard touchdown?
“So fun,” he said. “To look up (at the video board) and to see the little kids in the stands and everything, it was just so fun.”
Minder finished with 206 yards, the third most in finals history, with three scores on 23 carries.
“I owe it all to the offensive line,” Minder said. “They put everyone on their back and really came through in the end.”
The Titans finished the game with 514 yards rushing, setting a new MHSAA record for a finals game.
Troy Kutcha completed 2-of-4 passes for nine yards.
Ithaca finished with 322 total yards, 240 of which came through the air.
Last year was the first time since 2009 the Yellowjackets didn’t reach Ford Field, and the team was in the D-5 bracket.
Ithaca won state titles 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015.
Ithaca entered the final averaging 47 points per game in the playoffs, but ends the year at 13-1.
Lumen entered the final as state champs, and exits the same way.
Mike Moore is a play-by-play commentator and Sports Writer for JTV Sports.
He’s also a Realtor with Real Estate One, specializing with buyers and sellers throughout Michigan, from the Jackson area to metro Detroit. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (313) 770-6365 with any inquiries.