In Play with Tom Markowski


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Groves takes control in the second half, defeats Stony Creek, 14-3

By: Tom Markowski, August 31, 2017, 10:43 pm

Beverly Hills – There’s no secret to playing Birmingham Groves. A team must be ready for a physical contest or don’t bother to show up.

Rochester Hills Stony Creek matched Groves’ physical style in the first half and led, 3-0.

That wasn’t the case in the second half as Groves went 80 yards to score on the first possession of the second half and went on to defeat the Cougars, 14-3, on Thursday at Groves.

Groves (2-0), a Division 2 semifinalist a season ago, is 1-0 in the Oakland Activities Association White Division. Stony Creek (1-1) is 0-1.

Groves has won 23 of its last 26 games.

Chaise Ford, a 5-10, 190-pound senior two-way back, rushed for 117 yards on 20 carries and it was his 1-yard touchdown run on fourth down that gave Groves its 7-3 with 8:01 left in the third quarter.

It was a different, more consistent Groves team in the second half and Ford was front and center. His fumble at midfield set up Stony Creek’s field goal, a 24-yarder by Jake Ropeta with 45 seconds left in the first quarter.

“Coach (Brendan Flaherty) always said, weather the storm,” Ford said. “You’re in a fight. You’ve got to keep fighting.

“That fumble was frustrating. My brothers backed me up. The offensive lien got chewed out by coach at halftime and we just battled back. Bad things happen. You got to keep fighting.”

The situation went from bad to worse for the Cougars on the next series. Stony Creek was called for intentionally grounding, a penalty that cost the Cougars 16 yards and a loss of down. Later in the drive Stony Creek was assessed a holding penalty and on third down Frank Potenza III was sacked by Charlies Riddle for an 8-yard loss. Ralph Donaldson blocked a punt on the next play and Groves took over on the Stony Creek 22-yard line.

“My kids played physical,” Stony Creek coach Bob Lantzy said. “We had our chances in the first half. The way we took away their running game was fantastic. Our penalties is what killed us. That and those two punts.”

Groves took advantage of Donaldson’s blocked punt. On the next play quarterback Colton Tinsley threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Khalil Dawsey for a 14-3 lead. The ball was tipped by a defender and Dawsey alertly made an adjustment to corral the ball.

Dawsey’s interception at his 5-yard line with a minute to play put the game out of reach.

“I came into halftime and told the guys to weather the storm,” Flaherty said. “The first half was a case of, we don’t have the experience. That first drive of the second half was what we wanted. They can’t stop it, we keep on running it.”

It took Groves 10 plays to score and all came on the ground. Damonte McCurdy and Ford each gained 35 yards rushing on the drive. Ford had seven carries; McCurdy three.

To make matters worse for Stony Creek, Griffin Green, perhaps its best player, suffered a broken leg in the first half and two-way back Adam Hilton, the team’s fastest player, suffered a concussion. Both injuries took place in the first half.