Burgess throws three TD passes, River Rouge hangs on to defeat Ida, 28-26, to advance to Division 5 final
By Zach Inger
Novi – River Rouge continues to show it’s not just a basketball school.
The Panthers defeated Ida 28-26 in a Division 5 semifinal on Saturday at Novi High.
River Rouge (12-1), which had never won a regional until this season, will play defending champion Grand Rapids West Catholic (11-2) next Saturday for the championship at Ford Field at 4:30 p.m.
The teams were tied a 20-20 when River Rouge senior quarterback Antoine Burgess made the play of the game. His 74-yard touchdown pass, his third of the game, to sophomore Alexander Carter gave the Panthers a 26-20 lead in the fourth quarter. Carter, a tailback, caught the screen pass, and weaved his way through Ida’s defense. Burgess ran for the all-important conversion and an 8-point lead.
Ida would keep the game interesting with a 16-yard touchdown pass from David Kolakowski to Noah Sampson. Eric Bugg was stopped on the conversion try and River Rouge held on.
“Everyone wanted to play us seven years ago when they were beating us up,” River Rouge coach Corey Parker said. “We’re now creating a situation where we can’t find games and we want that. That’s how we know that we are doing an efficient job as to how we play football. And at the end of the day, we had to trust that our kids will be able to do it.”
River Rouge would strike first with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Burgess to Aaron Vinson to cap off an 11-play, 77-yard drive that gave the Panthers a 6-0 lead.
The Bluestreaks would take the lead, 7-6, on a 9-yard quarterback keeper by Kolakowski.
That didn’t last long. Giovanni Turner returned the kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead.
After fine defensive series, River Rouge scored again on a 60-yard touchdown pass from Burgess to Vinson once again.
River Rouge would go in at the half with a 20-7 lead.
Ida capitalized on a 10-play 73-yard drive to open the second half as Nick Levicki scored on 10-yard touchdown run.
The Bluestreaks (12-1), making their first semifinal appearance, would then surprise the Panthers by recovering the onside kick recovery then tied the game at 20-20 on a 1-yard touchdown run Bugg (129 rushing yards).