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FOOTBALL: Country Day overcomes turnovers, to down U-D Jesuit 18-17

By: Branden Hunter, September 6, 2014, 8:30 pm

BEVERLY HILLS, Mich. – If you turn the football over on four consecutive possessions, chances are you won’t win the game. Well Detroit Country Day did just that, but was still able to pull out the 18-17 win over U-D Jesuit. 

The game originally started on Friday night, but was postponed because of a weather delay, with the Yellowjackets trailing the Cubs 7-0 in the first quarter.

"We certainly didn’t get the start that we wanted last night, so we had not quite 24 hours to think about it," said Country Day head coach Dan MacLean. "Our guys really came out and responded against a team we usually struggle with, but the kids really showed their character, and I’m proud of them."

Maybe it was the long layoff that both teams had to endure, before they could resume play, but neither team played a clean game. All together, seven turnovers were committed in the game, five coming in the first half. Country Day was able to move the ball consistently on U-D Jesuit, but each drive was literally halted by either a fumble, or interception, but still only trailed 10-0 at the half.

"We said if we could clean those (turnovers) up, we could have a chance," MacLean said. "I thought that’s what we did, not turning the ball over at all in the second half, and coming away with the win."

Country Day (1-1) started its comeback midway through the third, when junior running back Larry Penson punched it in from 6-yards out to make it 10-6, after a missed extra-point. Penson led the Yellowjackets in rushing with a mere 27 yards, on 10 carries. 

U-D Jesuit (1-1) was also able to move the ball on Country Day, with senior quarterback, and Air Force commit Ryan Brand, and running back Jeren Kirkland. But committed three turnovers of their own in the game, including two fumbles to open the second half. 

Both defenses settled down in the second half, so a play was going to have to be made another way. Then with 5:05 left in the third, senior running back Jacob Hill returned a punt return 74-yards for a touchdown. Shifting threw the Cubs special teams defense, Hill gave Country Day the lead for the first time, 12-10.

"In his career, Jacob probably has a half dozen returns in his career," MacLean said. "He’s a captain and a leader, and he put the team on his shoulders in that respect."

U-D would respond, when Brand hit senior Sheldon Doss on a 16-yard fade pass for a touchdown, to regain the lead at 17-12, with 11:53 remaining. Neither team was able to do much in the fourth quarter, until Country Day had the ball late. 

Down by five, with just 3:56 left on the clock, senior quarterback David Pohl hit sophomore wide receiver Steve Mann for a 28-yard touchdown, that gave them the 18-17 lead, but most importantly, left just 22 seconds left in the game. The key play of the game came on 4th down and seven, when Pohl rushed for 17 yards to keep the drive going, before throwing the go-ahead touchdown. He finished 17-26, for 143 yards. Mann had five catches for 67 yards, and a score.

"I just saw an opportunity to catch the ball, and I did," Mann said. "I didn’t really do much, but my team relied on me during those pressure moments, and I’m happy I was a able to do that.

"I’m actually happy the delay happened, because we came out flat yesterday, so having that rain delay really helped us regroup."