Griggs’ second TD gives TC West a 21-14 victory over previously unbeaten TC Central in Patriot Game
Traverse City – Greg Vaughn was hired as head coach at Traverse City West and brought with him an extensive background as an offensive line coach.
Perhaps it is apropos that West’s offensive line was the dominant unit when the 7th Annual Patriot Game reached a crossroad in the fourth quarter.
West and rival Traverse City Central were tied at 14-14 when West gained possession on its 21 with 7:51 left. The Titans (2-2), stung twice this season in close games, went 79 yards in 14 plays, all on the ground, to score the winning touchdown with 1:19 remaining. Aiden Griggs, who scored the game’s first touchdown, punched it across from three yards out to score the final touchdown giving West a 21-14 upset victory at Thirlby Field on Friday.
Central (3-1) had one last chance. The Trojans faced a fourth down on West’s 35-yard line with five seconds left and quarterback Tobin Schwannecke scrambled to avoid the rush and heaved the ball to Jack Sherwin, who had single coverage in the end zone. Cornerback Patrick O’Connor, four inches shorter than the 6-4 Sherwin, broke up the pass to end the game.
“I was either the guy who let it go or be the one who made the play,” O’Connor said.
More times than not it was the Titans who made the big plays on this evening before more than 10,000 fans.
“Honestly, we had a hard time stopping them,” Central coach Eric Schugars said. “They pounded the ball. They were executing and we couldn’t come up with a stop. We just couldn’t stop them. Missed opportunities? We almost made a couple of big plays. The question is now, how do respond from this?”
West opened the scoring as on the first play of the second quarter as Griggs went through the middle of the line from five yards out to give the Titans a 7-0 lead.
Christian Boivin’s interception on fourth down ended Central’s first drive and gave West possession on its 25. Central gained four first downs on the game’s first possession but on a third-and-goal from the three, Zac Tokie sacked Schwannecke for a 9-yard loss. Boivin’s interception followed.
Griggs had three carries for 31 yards on West’s 75-yard touchdown drive.
The teams each exchanged two punts before Schwannecke caught the West defenders playing too close to the line of scrimmage and completed a 39-yard touchdown pass to Trey Searles. Tokie blocked the extra point and West led 7-6 with 2:09 left in the half.
After a failed fake punt attempt, Central took possession on the West 41. It took the Trojans seven plays, plus a holding penalty against West in the end zone, to score. Schwannecke’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Moswen Kirksey and Schwannecke’s conversion run gave Central a 14-7 lead with 7.5 seconds left and that’s the way the half ended.
West wasted a fine scoring opportunity on the first possession of the second half when it fumbled on the Central 19 and Jake Simmons recovered for the Trojans.
After a three-and-out West took over on the Central 44 and nine plays later, all on the ground, Sam DeKuiper scored on a 1-yard sneak to tie the score at 14-14 with 27.2 seconds left in the third quarter.
Schwannecke was 14-of-33 passing for 161 yards. For West, the Titans gained 281 yards, 265 on the ground. Griggs had 85 yards on 15 carries and Allen Rosa had 87 yards on 14 carries.
“It’s awesome,” Griggs said. I knew coming in it was going to be close. Those were two bad losses we had. We were hungry.
“We just told our offensive line, we need four yards. If we get four yards we’re going to get first downs. That’s our motto. Get four yards. They’re the core of our offense. You can’t win without a great offensive line.”