South's football team celebrates after beating rival Grosse Pointe North for a fourth consecutive year. photo by Bob Bruce.
October 17, 2013It was billed as "The Game" and city rivals Grosse Pointe North and host Grosse Pointe South lived up to the hype in last weekend's division game.
With everything on the line, Grosse Pointe South pulled out a 21-10 win. It is the Blue Devils' fourth straight win over the Norsemen.
"We had to control the ball and keep it out of their hands because of their explosive offense," South head coach Tim Brandon said. "We played great defense and were methodical on offense.
"Our kids won this big game and kept on track for achieving our goals of beating North, winning a division title and making the state playoffs."
Grosse Pointe South improved to 3-1 in the Macomb Area Conference Blue Division, tied with L'Anse Creuse North for the top spot, and 4-3 overall; Grosse Pointe North fell to 2-2 and 4-3.
"Both teams played a good game and I thought we had the momentum at the half after kicking the field goal," North head coach Frank Sumbera said.
Brad Centala kicked a 34-yard field goal on the last play of the second quarter to give the Norsemen a 10-7 halftime lead.
Each team had a first-quarter touchdown. South scored on an 82-yard pass from quarterback Richie Kish to wide receiver Jordan Spratt, and North scored on a 74-yard run by quarterback Dan Robinson.
Both defenses played a strong game and each benefited from quarterback sacks to keep the game 10-7 after three quarters.
The Norsemen's defense was stout as they only gave up the one long play. They had momentum heading into the final quarter.
The tide turned when the Blue Devils converted a fourth-down fake punt as Sam Blanzy threw a strike to his brother, Brian Blanzy in the flat. The play covered 19 yards and gave the Blue Devils a first down at the Norsemen 36-yard line.
"We worked on that play in practice," Brandon said. "Sam came in and said No. 42 would either blitz or drop back, leaving the flat open. I picked the right time to use the play and that was the time.
"Sam threw a great pass to Brian and we finished off the drive with a score. It was a big play, that is for sure, but our kids still had to executive after that."
After the successful fake punt, Kish went to work, connecting with wide receiver Tony Moore on a 6-yard gain and with Spratt for another 9-yard gain.
Sam Hunter gained five yards on a run and Kish threw a 7-yard pass to Moore, getting a first-and-goal at the Norsemen 9-yard line.
On the next play, Hunter ran 9 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 8:08 left in the game.
Andrew Fabry kicked the extra point, giving the Blue Devils a 14-10 lead.
Tristan Russano sacked Robinson on a third-down play to force another punt and the Blue Devils used their next possession to ice the game.
Hunter ran 28 yards on first down, getting to the Norsemen 17-yard line, and three plays later the Blue Devils had it on the 3-yard line.
Fullback Ryan Liagre bulldozed through the line to score an insurance touchdown with only 2:55 left. Fabry's PAT made it 21-10.
Robinson was intercepted by defensive back Josh Gray on the ensuing possession, but the Blue Devils were forced to punt with a minute left.
The Norsemen benefited from a South 15-yard penalty, but Robinson's final pass was once again intercepted by Gray to seal the victory.
Kish took a knee on the last play of game and South fans stormed the field, celebrating the huge victory.
Kish played with poise and finished 7-of-14 passing for 135 yards and one touchdown and one interception, and Hunter did it on the ground, gaining 137 yards on 23 carries with one score.
Spratt had three receptions for 101 yards and one touchdown and Moore had four catches for 34 yards.
Sam Blanzy was 1-of-1 for 19 yards and Brian Blanzy had the reception.
The defense limited the Norsemen's explosive offense to only the one long run by Robinson, who finished 3-of-15 passing for 50 yards and two interceptions and 12 carries for 89 yards with one score.
Tod Long had a couple of big runs early, but the Blue Devils shut him down in the second half and limited him to only 49 yards rushing on 13 carries and two receptions for 19 yards.
Lawrence Bryant ran the ball three times for 20 yards.
Both South and North need to win its final two games to automatically qualify for the state playoffs.
South hosts L'Anse Creuse at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18. If the Blue Devils win, they gain at least a share of the MAC Blue Division title and would win it outright if LCN loses to Fraser.
"We know we need two wins to make the playoffs, but our focus is on L'Anse Creuse and trying to win at least a share of the division title," Brandon said. "This will not be an easy game. L'Anse Creuse will be ready to play.
North hosts Port Huron Northern at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18. It can also gain a share of the title if South and LCN lose, leaving three teams at 3-2 in the MAC Blue.
"We have to focus on Northern and come out ready to play," Sumbera said "These are tough losses, but we can't hang our heads because we have a lot to play for."