DETROIT — Glen Lake made the 265-mile trip to Ford Field for the Division 6 state title game on Friday, but fell just a few inches short of the school’s first state title since 1994.
Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (12-1) won those crucial inches in a 7-0 win that was dominated by the defenses and came down to a few critical fourth-down play calls in the fourth quarter.
The Falcons converted of those on their final drive, including a 4th-and-2 that left Lakers’ head coach Jerry Angers scratching his head because of a questionable spot.
“No comment,” Angers said when asked if he thought his team made the stop. “The biggest thing is maybe we could have got a measurement on that just to be sure. From my angle it looked short, but I don’t know where the ball was at the end of the thing.”
That play marked the second time in the contest the referees moved along without taking a measurement on a close play, but Angers wouldn’t make any excuses for his team.
“We knew in that situation they were probably worried about us trying to block a punt,” Angers said. “We had the perfect defense set up for it and the collision between my linebacker and (Jace Worrell) was unbelievable. Whether they got the first down by six inches or one inch, it doesn’t matter, he still got it. What a gutsy call on his part.”
“We’ve been doing that all year,” Falcons head coach Adam Kipf said of the play. “It was an easy call. It was never a hesitation, I looked over at our defensive staff and told them we were going for it and the only thing they said back was ‘We know, just call the play.’”
The Falcons’ final drive was indicative of the rest of the game as they ran 7:48 off the clock on 14 plays before giving the ball back to the Lakers inside their own 10. The Falcons dominated time of possession by 15 minutes and ran 31 more offensive plays than the Lakers.
Glen Lake’s defense was outstanding at stopping big plays from happening all night and even started the first quarter with a goal-line stand to set the tone.
The Lakers would not break, but neither would the Falcons.
“As a quarterback, you can’t ask any more of a defense,” Lakers senior Reece Hazelton said. “They played a great game and offensively we just couldn’t get it done.”
The Laker offense sputtered most of the night and had penalties negate big offensive plays. In the second quarter, the Lakers made two completions for first downs, but had both called back because of an offensive pass interference and a holding call on back-to-back plays that turned a chance at midfield to a punt from their own 19-yard line.
Glen Lake committed eight penalties for 93 yards when they were only able to manage 127 total yards of offense.
“They were just very physical and big up front and at their linebacker position and they gave us some opportunities to throw the ball and we just didn’t capitalize on some of them,” Hazelton said. “When we wanted to run the ball, we just shot ourselves in the foot. Hats off to them because they’re a really good team, but honestly, it was just us shooting ourselves in the foot.”
The Falcons took their second drive in for the only score of the evening on a 6-yard sweep to the right pylon by quarterback Wyatt Bergmoser, who also kicked the extra point to make it 7-0. The Falcons went 94-yards in 10 plays for the score and let the Lakers know they would be on the field a lot Friday.
St. Mary compiled drives of nine, 10, 12, 12 and 14 plays to drain the clock after taking the lead. Glen Lake tried everything to move the chains in second half but only possessed the ball for 2:33 in the final quarter.
“That was probably the biggest team we faced all year,” Lakers senior Finn Hogan said. “We are pretty big ourselves but it was a little different change of pace for us. It took us a couple of drives to get used to it and they kind of capitalized on those.”
Glen Lake got the ball back from the Falcons with 2:27 left to play but a sack and three incompletions gave SMCC the chance to kneel the clock out.
“That was hard fought, one of the best football games I have been associated with,” Angers said. “Watching these kids battle every second, I can’t ask for anything more. One of my favorite groups ever, not just saying that, with our work ethic and our mantra all year was finish, and they finished.”
Hazelton finished 6-of-14 passing for 75 yards with an interception. Isaac Sterzer led the Glen Lake offense, carrying the ball eight times for 20 yards, while Jacob Pleva added 21 on two attempts.
Hogan and Jonathan Wright each tallied 12 tackles on defense for the Lakers and Justin Bonzelet had eight.
Wright, the Lakers’ leading rusher who was limited to playing only defense in the Lakers’ 31-30 overtime win over Montague by an injury, carried the ball only once Friday.
Alex Morgan was the workhorse for the Falcons, toting the ball 22 times for 123 yards. Bergmoser ran the ball 12 times for 39 yards and the game’s lone score. The Falcons only passed the ball four times compared to 58 rushing attempts.
“It’s the same thing as 2016, we missed by one inch,” Angers said. “It is a game of inches. We gotta win that inch. If you win that inch, you win the football game. We didn’t win that inch twice that we have been here.”