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Strong second half leads Detroit Catholic Central past Grandville in Division 1 regional final

By: Jeff Dullack, November 12, 2016, 5:32 pm

Novi – Saturday’s matchup between Detroit Catholic Central and Grandville featured two teams with old-school tendencies, preferring to run and possess the ball for long periods of time.

And in the second half, that’s exactly what proved to be the difference for the Shamrocks.

Behind its rushing attack and play from quarterback Austin Brown, Catholic Central dominated the time of possession battle in the second half as the Shamrocks earned a 28-14 win over Grandville to advance to the Division 1 semifinals.

In the semifinals, the Shamrocks will face Romeo, last year’s Division 1 state champion, who eliminated Catholic Central from the playoffs in the 2015 regional final.

Catholic Central head coach Tom Mach said his team’s ability to sustain long drives in the second half and keep the Grandville offense on the sidelines was key to his team’s win.

“Those were very important,” he said. “They (Grandville) are very dangerous, very difficult to stop and we were glad to just stop them enough to give our offense a chance to move the ball. The idea was, of course, to keep the ball away from them otherwise they’ll be keeping it away from us and scoring.”

The Shamrocks (12-0) opened up the second half with a 13-play, 90 yard scoring drive that lasted over six minutes and was capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by Nick Capatina to extend Catholic Central’s lead to 21-7 with 5:42 left in the third quarter.

Grandville (10-2) would respond with a long scoring drive of its own as the Bulldogs would march 75 yards down the field in 12 plays to cut the deficit to 21-14 after a Josh Atwell touchdown run from 10 yards out.

“One of our big keys in the last two weeks had been to control the ball on the ground and make some big plays in the pass game, but they did more of that than we did today,” Grandville coach Eric Steigel said. “They scored and then we scored to get it back to one possession and then it stayed one possession until about three minutes left in the game. We got the ball back, but couldn’t do anything with it, and they ground the game out and won.”

After the Grandville defense forced Catholic Central to settle for a field goal attempt that would miss wide right, the Shamrock defense forced a three and out with just over six minutes left to play, forcing a Grandville punt.

“Our defense had been playing very good,” Mach said of his team’s defense. “But it’s hard to stop that offense, so when you give them a couple of touchdowns, it’s almost as if you know you’re going to have to give them something. But we were able to keep the ball long enough to score ourselves, so we turned the tide on that one.”

On the ensuing drive, the Shamrocks would drive inside the Grandville 40-yard line, while still running time off the clock and on a key third down and seven, Brown would scramble around to avoid the Grandville pass rush and took off down the sideline for a 35-yard touchdown run to again push Catholic Central’s lead to two scores, 28-14 with just 3:07 remaining.

Brown, who finished the game with 144 yards on 10-of-12 passing, said that his touchdown run was a broken play and added that he even surprised himself with the speed he showed off on the play.

“It was a broken play,” he said. “I ended up seeing something big to the right side of the field and then used the speed that I didn’t think I had and I ended up scoring.

“When I got 10 yards down the field I said I’m not letting anybody stop me, I was looking to get in.”

In the first half, the Shamrocks would use a 1-yard touchdown run by Matt Young and a 3- yard run by Cam Ryan to take a 14-7 halftime lead. Grandville’s lone first half touchdown came on a 1-yard touchdown run by Andrew Sundstrom.