FOOTBALL: Ishpeming Repeats As Division 7 State Champs With A Win Over Detroit Loyola 22-12
DETROIT – Ishpeming didn’t travel over seven hours and 470 miles all the way from the Upper Peninsula to leave empty handed.
The defending Division 7 state champions defeated Detroit Loyola 20-14 in last year’s game, and the rematch wasn’t much different.
The Hematites repeated as state champions, with a dominant 22-12 victory over the Bulldogs.
"We were just trying to run it right at them," said senior quarterback Alex Briones. "We through in some misdirection, play action, and fake throws. And a lot of times my guys were wide open, so all I had to do was make the play."
Briones accounted for all three of Ishpeming’s touchdowns, accumulating 136 yards of total offense along the way.
Things went Ishpeming’s way from start to finish, when Patrick Harbin muffed the opening kickoff, and Ozzie Hakkarinen recovered the ball at the Loyola 22-yard line.
Seven plays later Briones hit Marcus Antilla on a 17-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion was successful and Ishpeming took an early 8-0 lead just threw minutes in.
Loyola had it’s opportunities in the first half on offense, but weren’t able to capitalize. Garrett Schaller threw interceptions on two consecutive drives, and Marvin Campbell was stopped on 4th down on the 2-yard line in the second.
"I’m not making any excuses, but we got whooped," said Loyola head coach John Callahan. "It started from the opening play, and I know it sounds cliche, but the ball bounced the wrong way."
Antony Frierson had a 74-yard touchdown run for Loyola early in the third, but was called back due to an illegal block penalty.
Loyola was forced to punt on that drive, and Ishpeming put the game away on the ensuing drive. Briones capped off a five play, 54 yard drive with a diving leap into the endzone to make it 22-0 with 4:38 left in the third.
The Bulldogs answered the very next possession when Schaller hit a wide open Keith Graves on a 34-yard touchdown pass. Loyola was only down 22-6 with a full quarter to play.
They made it 22-12 with 3:52 remaining when Schaller and Graves hooked up again from 31-yards out. By then Loyola had ran out of time, and with 1:10 left in the fourth, Ozzy Corp picked off Schaller again to end the game.
Ishpeming ran out the rest of the time on the clock, and stormed the field to celebrate their 22-12 victory and second straight state title.
"This win was like a dream come for all of us repeating," said Briones. "We knew we’d see Loyola again in the playoffs, and we came down here and got another one."