(Grass Lake, MI) –Tonight’s premier Week 3 matchup between Michigan Center and Grass Lake gave a true feel that High School football is definitely back. And if a rematch that had been circled on the calendar for almost a year and a fifty-degree ball field weren’t already enough, the hard hitting, down-to-the-wire action was.
Michigan Center held the Warrior offense to nothing on its first possession and forced a three and out. 73 yards later, the Cardinals found themselves up seven. Dylan Zaborowski scrambled and found Connor Brandt wide open in the end zone for a 7-yard score. They allowed one first down on their second defensive outing, and forced yet another Warrior punt. Grass Lake’s third possession wasn’t any more successful as Zaborowski showed skill on the defensive side of the ball with a leaping interception. Josh Padelt had some nice runs to help the drive move towards goal line, and Zaborowski eventually capped of a clock-eating drive to start the second quarter with a 5-yard touchdown run.
On the next possession, Grass Lake finally found a rhythm with their running game. “It took awhile,” stated Coach Randy Cole, “but we put together a good drive and got our sweep going, and were able to hit them from the inside and the outside.” Justin Wright had a couple of big runs, and after a Drew Plensdorf touchdown, they pulled within a score, making it a 14-7 game. Both defenses continued to battle it out to end the first half, and the score remained the same.
With 6:23 left in the third quarter, the Warriors finally got the big play they had been waiting for, and it came from Caleb Sabo when he escaped outside on a 58-yard run. Sabo ended the game with 19 carries and 124 yards. The third quarter ended, with the score knotted up 14-14, and both teams had only 12 minutes to figure out how to out-smart and out-play each other.
Wright had a few more big runs in the fourth, including a touchdown from 3-yards out to put his Warriors up 21-14. Wright ended the night with 155 yards on the ground.
Michigan Center, whose defense thrived in the first half, allowed 21 unanswered points and needed to rely on their offense to come through in the clutch. They drove the ball slowly, and on 4 and 1, the Cardinals had to go for it in order to have a chance. They handed the ball off to there biggest playmaker, Drew Dowding who broke free for 35-yards. Dowding took the ball in for a score a couple of plays later, and the Cardinals looked to be back in business. However, the extra point attempt sailed wide right, and they left the field still down one point.
With 4:47 left, Grass Lake just needed to manage the clock. However, after some impressive stops by the Cardinal defense, they were forced to punt, only to be bailed out for a free first down because of an offside penalty. Within the final 60 seconds, Plensdorf scooted from 31 yards out to put the Warriors up 27-20. Michigan Center took the ensuing kickoff, and marched the ball down to the Warrior red zone, but the ball fell incomplete just past the goal line as the clock struck all zeros.
Coach Randy Cole was very pleased with the rally from behind win, but realizes there is plenty of regular season football left to be played. “It’s a great rivalry, so it’s a big win, but it’s just another step in the conference. There are a lot of games left in the season, but beating a tough team like Michigan Center is a great start.”
Grass Lake (3-0) hosts Napoleon next week, and Michigan Center (2-1) travels to play at Hanover-Horton.