South Christian outlasts Sexton for second D-4 Title in three years
Detroit – After falling to Marine City in the Division 4 state championship game last year, Grand Rapids South Christian had one goal in the 2014 season.
And that was not only to make it back to Ford Field for a third straight year, but to win its second state championship in three years.
As the final seconds could not have been more stressful for the Sailors as Lansing Sexton tried to rush and get a final play off near midfield, the clock ran out before another play could be run, giving South Christian a thrilling 28-27 win and a second state title in three trips to Ford Field.
South Christian coach Mark Tamminga said that winning a state championship was the goal for his team, particularly his seniors, all season long and is happy to see the senior class go out on top.
“It’s great and I’m just so happy for this senior class,” he said. “They were so driven, this was their goal at the beginning of the season and they worked so hard to get it. I’m so happy for them.”
With South Christian holding a 20-14 lead coming out of the half, the Sailors wasted no time extending their lead as senior quarterback Jon Wassink took off on a 68 yard touchdown run to extend the South Christian lead to 28-14 after Wassink tacked on the two-point conversion with 11:43 left in the third quarter.
Wassink finished the day 179 yards in the air with three touchdown passes and 136 yards and one score on the ground to lead the way for South Christian.
“It was the driving force behind our whole season,” said Wassink. “We didn’t want to lose again in the finals and we didn’t.”
Sexton did respond after falling behind 28-14 as the Big Reds cut the deficit down to 28-21 just before the end of the third quarter on a 17 yard touchdown run by Gavin Hoskins with 1:05 left before the fourth quarter.
Then, the Big Reds scored again less than two minutes into the fourth frame when quarterback Malik Mack found Kahari Foy-Walton for a 29 yard touchdown to cut the South Christian lead to 28-27, but the ensuing point after attempt was no good keeping South Christian in the lead.
Late in the fourth quarter, Sexton came up with a stop deep in its own end on fourth down to get the ball back and slowly started moving down the field as the clock ran towards zero.
Mack connected with Randye Parker on a 13 yard pass that the officials marked just short of the first down mark with less than 10 seconds left to play, bringing up fourth down as the clock would expire before a final snap could be made, giving South Christian the win.
Tamminga said that Sexton wears teams down and his team was extremely tired late in the game, but asked his team to dig deep one final time on that last drive to pull out the win.
“They wear you down and our team was just dog tired,” he said. “They came on the sidelines and I told them, ‘you gotta dig deeper than you’ve ever dug before,’ and they did and came up with the plays when they had to.”
In the first half, Mack and Foy-Walton connected for a 22 yard score to put the Big Reds on top, 7-0 early on, but South Christian responded four minutes later when Wassink found Veenstra for a 9-yard score to tie the game up at 7-7 with 5:34 left in the opening quarter.
With just over two minutes to go in the first quarter, the Sailors took their first lead of the game when Wassink found Sam Heyboer for a 41 yard score to make it 14-7.
Sexton would respond with just 42 seconds left to play in the first half when Mack would score on a 2-yard run to tie the game at 14-14, but Wassink and the South Christian offense orchestrated a picture-perfect two-minute drive and retook the lead with just seven seconds left before the half on a 20 yard score from Wasskink to Eric VanVoorst as the Sailors went into halftime with a 20-14 lead.
Tamminga said that his senior signal caller had been motivated to go out with a state title all year long and that’s exactly what the Western Michigan-commit was able to do.
“He’s been driven all year,” he said. “This is what he wanted, he felt that he didn’t play his best game last year and this is what he wanted, he wanted to win a state championship and go out with a state championship and what a tremendous athlete and I wish him the best at Western Michigan.”
**EDITORS NOTE: Highlights from this game can be seen on the State Champs! High School Sports Show Sunday at 9 am and 10 pm on Fox Sports Detroit**