FOOTBALL: Harrison rips & roars past Oak Park in high-scoring OAA White thriller on leg of rookie
FARMINGTON HILLS – Saturday afternoon couldn’t have presented a more pressure-packed situation for Farmington Hills Harrison sophomore kicker Alex Bolstrum.
Green wasn’t just the color of his uniform.
After being called up from the school’s JV team less than two weeks ago, Bolstrum lined up for the first field goal of his varsity career, a 30-yarder with just six seconds left to play that would send the Hawks soaring into the playoffs
With ice in his veins, Bolstrum delivered like a savvy veteran, drilling the kick to give his team a two-point lead and lift tough-as-nails Harrison to a heart-pounding 60-52 win over Oak Park to celebrate Homecoming in style.
Shoring things up for the Hawks (6-1), Peyton Petersen returned a an errant pitch-back on the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown as time expired to account for the final eight-point margin of victory.
“I think it was a good decision,” said a laughing Harrison head coach John Herrington on his choice to call Bolstrum up to the varsity roster a couple weeks ago. “He came through big. It was his first attempt for us and he put it right through the middle. That was awesome. I had trouble looking at it, but I did watch. I just took a little peak at it and it was a great moment for him and the whole team.”
Bolstrum said he was confident when his coach gave him the nod to win the game.
"I was just ready", he said with assurance. "When I was on JV, I kicked a few 38 yard field goals and I was fine with extra points. I treated this kick the same way, so I was definitely ready,”
He added that off his foot, he felt the kick may have gone wide right, but after seeing it up in the air, he knew it was going through.
“I kind of looked and I thought for a second, it might go wide right and then as it went up, I knew it was good.”
In a game that was the definition of a back-and-forth battle, Oak Park (5-2) took a lead with just 5:09 left to play on Johnny Kelly’s fourth touchdown of the afternoon, a four yard run to give the Knight’s a 46-42 lead.
But Harrison responded 90 seconds later as junior quarterback Jevon Shaw found receiver Devon Cook for a 34 yard touchdown strike to give the Hawks a 49-46 lead. Jordan Austin’s blocked punt on the following Oak Park drive forced a safety to push Harrison’s lead to 51-46 with just 1:57 left to play.
Oak Park didn’t go quietly though and the Knights’ recovered an onside kick that followed and proceeded to march down the field on a drive that used just over a minute of the clock and ended with a 10 yard touchdown pass from Chauncey Lowman to Kelly to put the Knight’s on top 52-51.
Oak Park head coach Greg Carter remarked that Saturday’s game looked a lot like a college football game, where each offense was able to move the ball at will.
“I love high school football on Friday’s, I love professional football on Sunday’s, but college football is what this was,” he said. “So we’re not happy with our defense’s performance, obviously, but you have to give them (Harrison) credit, they did a lot of things, play-action hurt us and the quarterback boots hurt us. But we gave ourselves a chance and our kids didn’t quit.”
After the Lowman-to-Kelly score, Shaw and the Harrison offense quickly roared back, putting together a speedy drive of their own to place the Hawks into field-goal range, setting up Bolstrum’s kick to win it.
Shaw noted that the key for him and his teammates on the final drive was to stay calm and simply run their offense.
“We didn’t panic,” said Shaw. “I told my teammates that we were going to win this game, and that’s what we did.”
Finishing Saturday’s contest with over 400 yards of total offense, Shaw was dynamic, throwing for over 300 and adding 100 more on the ground while totaling five touchdowns (three in the air, one rushing and one on a 92-yard kick return to help pace the Harrison offense.
Kelly, who played with an illness but was nonetheless spectacular, paced the Oak Park offense, rushing for 225 yards and scoring five touchdowns (three on the ground, one on a catch and one on a fumble recovery).