Sargent leads Powers, on offense and defense, past Country Day, 21-14, to reach Division 4 final
West Bloomfield – Flint Powers Coach Bob Buckel stood near the end zone all by himself moments after the players shook hands following the game. Tears were streaming down his face.
"Those are tears of joy," said Buckel, who in his 33rd year as a head coach, the last five at Powers. "This is a dream of a lifetime. We’re going back to Ford Field."
Powers advances to the Division 4 championship game with a come-from-behind 21-14 victory over Detroit Country Day on a snow-covered, slippery field at West Bloomfield High School on Saturday.
Powers (11-2) will face unbeaten Zeeland West (13-0) Friday at Ford Field at 7:30 p.m.
There were only 26 seconds left in the game when all-everything senior quarterback Noah Sargent scored on a one-yard run to break a 14-14 tie.
"If he (Sargent) is alive we have a chance to win," Buckel said. "Noah is smart, tough, driven and a heck of a football player."
Sargent leads his team in passing yards and rushing yards.
Against Country Day (11-2), Sargent rushed for 85 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries and, although it was tough passing in the snow and wind, he was 5-of-16 for 97 yards and one touchdown. Sargent also ran for a two-point conversion and he made a key interception to set up Powers’ second touchdown.
Powers trailed 14-0 early in the second quarter but never lost confidence.
"We believe in each other," Sargent said. "We just had to keep our heads up. We knew in this snow anything can happen,"
Sargent had two clutch third down passes to Nick Thompson on the winning 67-yard drive. The first was a 28-yard gain on third-and-13 at the Country Day 43-yard line with 2:01 left and the second was good for 15 yards on third and 11 to the one-yard line with 29 seconds left.
With 3:32 left, Powers faced a fourth down and one on the Country Day 45-yard line. Powers drew Country Day off sides, giving Powers a first down on the 40.
Country Day Coach Dan MacLean wasn’t happy with the call.
"We discussed that happening with the officials before the game," MacLean said. "Powers can be deceptive trying to draw you off sides. We saw that over and over on its game films. We don’t think we were off sides. We don’t think our kid went in the neutral zone. But the call went against us. It was devastating."
The game was played mostly in a heavy snow and the field made footing treacherous. Buckel admitted that was an advantage for his team.
"Country Day is very quick and very athletic so the conditions helped us," Buckel said. "When we were down 14-0, I told our kids to just keep playing hard because in this weather anything can happen. I’ve never coached in conditions like this before."
Country Day, which has three state championships and has advanced to the state title game four times in the last eight years, scored first on quarterback Steve Mann’s 63-yard pass to Larry Penson with 1:46 left in the first quarter. A minute later, Mann, who starts on defense and offense, recovered a fumble to give Country Day a first down on the Powers 38-yard line. On third down and three at the 31-yard line, Chris Bergin ran for 27 yards. Three plays later, Bergin scored on a one-yard run and Mann passed to Kolin Demens for the two-point conversion.
Powers cut the deficit to 14-6 on Sargent’s 38-yard pass to Peyton Beauchamp with 6:12 remaining in the third quarter. Sargent’s one-handed interception near the sideline gave Powers the ball on the Country Day 20-yard line. Senior back Reese Morgan, who rushed for 83 yards on 21 carries, scored on a 20-yard run with 25 seconds left in the third quarter. Sargent ran for the two-point conversion to tie it 14-14.
"We know how tough Zeeland West is but you never know and we’re feeling pretty good right now," Sargent said.