Source: Grosse Pointe News Online

Late FG sends South past North

by Bob St. John

October 11, 2012

With a capacity crowd anxiously awaiting a potential game-winning field goal try, Grosse Pointe South senior kick Liam McIlroy stayed focused on his task at hand. The visiting Blue Devils benefi ted from a controversial pass interference call that wiped out a Grosse Pointe North interception late in the fourth quarter of the annual city rivalry game. After the controversial call, South head coach Tim Brandon called seven straight running plays that put the ball at the Norsemen 20-yard line with only 51.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Brandon didn’t hesitate and sent out his fi eld goal unit to try to win the game. This kick meant beating rival North for the third year in a row, a historic feat for South’s football program. South also clinched a share of the Macomb Area Conference White Division championship and secured a spot in the state playoffs for a fourth consecutive season. Senior Phl Nauert had a perfect snap to sophomore holder Richie Kish. Kish had a perfect placement into the turf and McIlroys’s 36-yard fi eld goal try split the uprights, giving South a 17-15 win over Grosse Pointe North. North had two more possessions after that, but an interception snuffed out the fi rst one and senior quarterback Sean McHale’s pass to senior wide receiver Robert Tillman was caught, but he was immediately tackled to end the game. “This is a gutsy win and a historic win,” Brandon said. “These guys never gave up and they played hard, even after North jumped out to that 12-0 lead early in the game. “We put forth a solid effort and we knew we were up against a good North team. We have some bumps and bruises, but we won a big game and now we focus on L’Anse Creuse and a chance to win the outright division title.” The driving rain played havoc on the passing attack for both teams. South sophomore quarterback Ryan Liagre and McHale combined to throw seven interceptions. Defenses dominated the line of scrimmage for the most part as neither the Blue Devils nor the Norsemen mounted any sustained drives. The Norsemen scored on a 26-yard pass from McHale to senior wide receiver Taiwan Wiggins at the 5:53 mark of the second quarter and senior Corey Pierce intercepted a Liagre pass and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown at the 3:47 mark of the opening quarter. Both conversion tries failed, leaving the Norsemen with a 12-0 lead. One of the biggest momentum swings came in the second quarter when McHale threw a pass that South sophomore Jack Fry intercepted and returned for a touchdown. A North touchdown could have pushed the lead to 18- or 19-0, but instead the Blue Devils’ pick-six and McIlroy’s extra point made it a 12-7 game. North dodged an arrow later in the second quarter when Taiwan intercepted a Liagre pass in the end zone and McHale also intercepted a pass on the Blue Devils’ next possession to help the Norsemen maintain the 12-7 lead at the half. The Norsemen opened the second half with possession of the ball, but a fumble was recovered by South senior Zach VanElslander at North’s 30-yard line. It took the Blue Devils four plays to score as senior Renell Perkins scored on a 4-yard run. McIlroy kicked the extra point to give the visitors a 14-12 lead. The biggest play on the drive was a 23-yard completion from Liagre to junior wide receiver Jordan Spratt. North answered and took the ensuing possession to run eight plays and drive inside the red zone. North head coach Frank Sumbera decided on a field goal try and junior Michael Bylski delivered, making the 26-yard kick as the Norsemen retook the lead, 15-14, with 4:08 left in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, McHale and Wiggins each intercepted Liagre, but the Blue Devil defense held tight, forcing punts on each possession as senior Jack Doyle, 13 tackles, and Fry, 12 tackles, led the way. The game-winning drive began on the Blue Devils’ 24-yard line. Their offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage on the drive as the Blue Devils gained 36 yards on the ground, six in the air and 15 on the pass interference penalty. For South, Perkins gained 68 yards on 19 carries, while Spratt had 41 yards receiving on three catches and senior Tom McShane had 39 yards receiving on three catches. For North, junior Martice Dunlap gained 62 yards on seven carries and McHale had 55 yards rushing on 12 attempts, plus threw for 50 yards on 3-of-5 passing with a touchdown. Grosse Pointe South improved to 4-0 in the M a c o m b A r e a Conference Blue Division and 6-1 overall; Grosse Pointe North dropped to 2-2 in the MAC Blue and 4-3 overall.