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Detroit Catholic Central uses passing game to outlast Muskegon for 15-12 win in season opener

By: Jeff Dullack, August 28, 2015, 11:30 pm

Wixom – As Tom Mach opened up his 40th season as head coach Detroit Catholic Central on Friday night, it wasn’t the Shamrocks’ tradition rushing attack, but their passing game that would be the key as they played host to Muskegon.

Behind a pair of second half touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Theo Day, Catholic Central overcame a 12-0 deficit to pick up a thrilling 15-12 win over Muskegon avenging a season opening loss one year earlier.

After only gaining 13 yards of offense in the first half, Catholic Central coach Tom Mach and offensive coordinator Mike Mach made the decision to rely on the passing game in the second half.

“We decided at halftime, my son, Michael, and I that we’re not going to beat these guys running, not today anyway,” Tom Mach said. “We’ll beat them passing the ball, if we can and luckily, it turned out that way.”

Early in the third quarter, Muskegon would widen its lead to 12-0 on a 76 yard touchdown pass from Kalil Pimpleton to Jacorey Sullivan, but from there, the Shamrocks settled in on both sides of the ball.

Less than two minutes after the Muskegon touchdown, the Shamrock offense responded with its first score of the game as Theo Day connected with Alex Bock for a 28 yard touchdown with 8:27 left to play to cut the Muskegon lead to 12-7.

“The offensive line did a great job in the first half and they gave me a lot more time to throw in the second half,” he said. “I started to get into a bit of a rhythm, I missed a few passes that I should have hit, but I was able to hit some big ones that led to touchdowns.”

After both defenses kept the score the same for the remainder of the third quarter, Catholic Central would take its first lead of the game on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Day would scramble out of the pocket to avoid the pass rush from Muskegon and made a leaping throw to Mike Edwards for a 10 yard touchdown pass and after a two-point conversion pass from Day to Bock, the Shamrocks had a 15-7 lead.

Mach said that he was pleased with his sophomore quarterback’s performance against a tough Muskegon defense as he made his first start on the varsity squad.

“That was his first game as a Shamrock, even last year as a freshman, he didn’t play that much,” he said. “I thought that was a very good performance under the pressure that he was under. A big school like Muskegon coming in and him performing as well as he did, I thought that was great.”

Late in the game, Muskegon drove deep into Catholic Central territory and found itself inside the Catholic Central 10-yard line. But after a pair of defensive stands, Muskegon ran its field goal unit out with just one second left and the field goal would fall short to give the Shamrocks the 15-12 win.

Muskegon coach Shane Fairfield said that he felt his team needed to capitalize on its chances more, but was pleased that the Big Reds gave themselves a chance to win at the end of the game.

“We have to be able to capitalize, we knew our defense was going to be stout, but then we ended up playing too many plays because we had too many three-and-outs,” he said.

“If we would have been able to punch one more in, that would have given us an 18 point lead at that point and then we could have started going after it a little bit more and started taking more chances. But no excuses, this was a good high school football game, they made their mistakes, we made our mistakes and they came out on top. The most important thing that I’m impressed with is the fact that all you can ask your kids to do at the end of the day is give your team a chance to win at the end and we did that.”