Lumen Christi stages late comeback, upends two-time state champion West Catholic, 22-21
Grand Rapids - Jackson Lumen Christi coach Herb Brogan wondered how his youthful team would react to a double-digit deficit in the second half on the road against the two-time defending Division 5 state champion.
It turns out his team wasn’t about to throw in the towel and go home.
Lumen Christi staged a furious rally and pulled out a thrilling 22-21 season-opening victory over West Catholic at Falcon Stadium.
The Titans ended the Falcons’ 23-game winning streak.
“It’s a young team and we have inexperienced kids in leadership positions,” Brogan said. “So when you get down by two touchdowns you wonder what is going to happen. Are we going to hang in there and play tough or are we going to fold? We hung in there and made plays at the end.”
Senior Wyatt Plate’s 4-yard run with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter proved to be the game winner as Lumen Christi stormed back from a 21-6 deficit in the third quarter.
The Titans scored the game’s final 16 points.
“It’s a great win, but a win is a win and we move on,” said Lumen Christi senior quarterback Liam Daly, who tossed three interceptions before engineering the game-winning drive.
“We have some fighters and we have some boys that are tough. I threw a couple picks, but I counted on my boys to get me out of it. We stayed composed when we fell behind and trusted each other.”
Lumen Christi, which went 11-1 last season and fell in a regional final, trailed early as the host Falcons scored on their opening possession.
An 8-yard run by junior quarterback David Fox put West Catholic up 6-0.
The Titans answered on a 1-yard plunge by Daly, and the scored was knotted 6-6 at halftime.
West Catholic took advantage of a fumble on the second-half kickoff and punched it in. Back-up quarterback Gaetano Vallone, who replaced an injured Fox, reached the end zone from 3 yards out and the two-point conversion made it 14-6.
Later in the third, Vallone connected with Zack Zenner, who took a short pass and raced 68 yards for the score.
However, the Titans closed the gap at the end of the third as Josh Marsh scored from four yards out and it was 21-14.
A bad snap by West Catholic on a punt attempt sailed into the end zone for a safety to make it 21-16.
“We made a million mistakes, enough to lose the game, and they made mistakes, but we know what they got and they are a well-coached football team,” Brogan said. “It just feels great to come up here, fall behind like we did, battle back and win the ball game.”
Despite trailing for the first time all night after Lumen Christi’s go-ahead score, the Falcons still had a chance to win.
They reached the Lumen Christi 17-yard line with less than a minute remaining, but Vallone’s pass on fourth down fell incomplete and the Titans celebrated.
West Catholic coach Dan Rohn said he contemplated attempting a game-winning field goal.
“It crossed my mind, but we had issues all night long with our snaps,” he said. “We thought we had a pretty good play called, but they adjusted their scheme a little bit. We probably should’ve used our last timeout, but we didn’t.”
The Falcons also are young this season after graduating several key starters from last year’s state title squad.
“We’ve been preaching to these guys that’s it’s going to be the little things in games like this,” Rohn said. “And that’s what it came down to. One or two plays here or there.
“But this was a great test. I feel you learn a lot more from your football from a loss early than you do any other time. We will learn from this and get better.”