Belleville comes back to defeat Robichaud and is alone in first place in the WWAC Blue
Dearborn Heights - When Jermaine Crowell left Detroit Cass Tech to coach Belleville he knew what it would take to form a winning team. It took running the football, playing good defense and believing in your team’s ability to win.
Crowell took over a team that won only three games last season and he knew he the most important game was the one this team was playing that week. And over the course of the season Belleville got better.
Belleville had a tough test in Dearborn Heights Robichaud on Friday night and thanks to a late touchdown drive, Belleville outlasted host Robichaud 23-20 in a game for first place in the Western Wayne Athletic Conference Blue Division.
“Teams are going to change throughout the season,” Crowell said. “You never have your entire team play. So it’s about rotating players, and getting them experience so they have confidence.
“We have to be an effort team. It’s going to take all of us to get the job done. And, they’re learning.”
Belleville (4-1, 3-0) has won four straight since losing to Salem, 22-12.
“This win is so huge,” Belleville senior Conner Sampson said. “We had an opportunity to come in and play spoilers on homecoming, and we willed ourselves to a win.”
Sampson and the Tigers had their backs against the wall in the fourth quarter down 20-10.
Robichaud’s Jairus Grissom put the Bulldogs (4-1, 2-1) up two scores on a 4-yard touchdown run with 8:47 left in the game.
The Tigers used freshman Khalid Crawford to gain two first downs on runs of 19 and 11 yards to set up a Belleville toiuchdown with 7:30 left.
Robichaud was looking to take as much time off the clock as it could keeping the ball on the ground before Belleville’s defense forced a punt and took over on their own 40.
A few plays later, Sampson connected on a deep post rout to sophomore Jahmill Taylor who ran a quick 40-yard dash to the end zone for a 23-20 lead.
“Some people think playing quarterback is having a good arm, but it’s all up here,” Crowell said as he pointed to his head. “Connor knew we had to move the safety over, and that would open up the middle. He made a great throw and put the team on his shoulders tonight.”
It wasn’t always that way.
On Robichaud’s first drive Grissom orchestrated a 65-yard drive with his duel-threat athleticism chewing up yards on short passes and on the ground. On second-and-five, Grissom connected to Damien Potts on a curl route. Potts planted his foot, and turned to the outside for a 7-0 lead with 6:34 left in the first quarter.
It took Belleville until late in the second quarter to find its rhythm on offense behind the legs of Crawford who gashed the Bulldog defense for large gains of over 10-yards on three runs.
After a penalty moved the ball inside the 10, Crawford punched the ball in from one yard out for a 7-7 tie with 4:01 left in the half. Junior Chase Bonglorno’s 26-yard field goal gave Belleville a 10-7 halftime lead
“We have freshmen who can play. (Crawford) ran so hard for us. He runs hard in practice, but he’s coming off an ankle injury. To see him run like this today was nice,” Crowell said.
Robichaud would take the lead late in the third quarter when Grissom was trying to escape the rush.
As the 6-2 junior rolled to his right, then back to his left, he found Mike Carter on the boundary wide open. Carter made a fingertip grab, and ran across field for a 60-yard touchdown for a 13-10 lead.
While knocking off an undefeated team was nice, Crowell knows his team has a long ways to go. He knows the team is becoming a family, and a single unit that can rely on each other. And that’s what it will take to get the Tigers to what he calls the “closing season”.
“The win is nice, but we have a long ways to go,” he said. “We’re just trying to play to the close season. I’m not going to keep track of how many wins we have. We have to correct things and continue to get better for (Redford) Thurston next week.
“That’s all I care about.”