Division 7 - Hornets Sting The Gladiators

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Division 7

Mendon 20 Traverse City St. Francis 0

To open the day, Mendon kicked to Traverse City St. Francis and the ball was returned a few yards to the 42 yard line of TCSF. Like pretty much every game previous, the team to get the ball first couldn’t move it and had to punt. Mendon’s Phil Campbell hauled in a 30 yard pass from CJ Nightingale to move across midfield. That was the end of their movement as they couldn’t convert the fourth down and turned it over on the 33. Two plays later, The Gladiators were across midfield and down to the 36 yard line on a big run by Andrew Rushlow. Their fourth down punt was bobbled, fumbled, recovered, and the foot missed the ball on the kick. Mendon couldn’t capitalize and were forced to punt as well. They had a beautiful kick from Kyle Maurer to pin TCSF at their own six. The misdirection and counter favored by the Gladiators slowed down the defensive attack of Mendon. Dan Brick ran 55 yards for a first down just inside the red zone with just over a minute remaining in the first quarter. Their next pass was thrown into double coverage and picked off by Mendon’s Phil Campbell in the end zone. A fumble was recovered by Matt Grimm for Mendon after quarterback Spencer Ambrosius dropped it on his own 35. This sparked a Mendon drive. They went for it on fourth and three at the 27 and it came up a foot short. Ambrosius’ next pass was tipped and picked off by CJ Nightingale who returned it 43 yards for the score, on an exciting across-the-field run. There was 3:40 left before the break when Mendon kicked off. Without a lot of time remaining, the Gladiators ran a no huddle offense while keeping the ball on the ground. On third and seven with only 13 seconds left, a halfback pass was called, but he wasn’t able to get the pass off and Mendon jogged to the locker room with a seven point lead.

The kickoff was taken by Mendon’s Kyle Maurer and returned 26 yards to the 47. They couldn’t do a whole lot with the ball, but their punt was covered at the one yard line. With their backs against the end zone, a few runs gave them some breathing room but the third down run was stuffed by the huge Matt Collins to force fourth and six and a punt from their own end zone. Mendon took over on TCSF’s 25. A fourth down pass was too high and the ball was turned over on downs. From their own 19, the Gladiators were able to get a few first downs, but were forced to punt after gaining only 20 yards. Mendon took over on their 27 and ran for a first down on their first play. On the next play, Maurer ran 56 yards down to the six yard line and pushed down inside the three before the third quarter ended. Faced with third and goal, Maurer ran the final two yards for the score to put his team up, but the kick was blocked. Mendon’s kickoff was fielded by Spencer Wheelock and returned to the 24. Two straight penalties moved TCSF back to their own 20 for a first and 14 and the third moved them to second and 15. The third down pass was broken up on a crunching hit by Mendon’s Jordan Higgins. Mendon got the ball back and on their third and nine, Nightingale’s pass was complete to Phil Campbell for a 20 yard gain. Mendon found themselves in to a tough situation. On the 15 yard line, they had a fourth and one to convert and since it was successful, they were able to keep the clock running past the five minute mark. Brian Baker ran the touchdown in from the 13 and the extra point was good to move the score up 20-0 with 4:22 remaining in the game. Joe Smith sniffed out the kick return right and dropped the player at the 12 yard line. Mendon recovered another fumble, this time Colin Gregory came up with it at the 24. The ball was fumbled back to Traverse City at the 23. The third down pass resulted in a sack for Mendon and forced the punt with less than two minutes to go. It took a nice bounce and Mendon took over at their 32 with 1:11 before being the first to shut out Traverse City St. Francis this season. One last hiccup was giving the ball back on a fumble at Mendon’s 29 with slightly less than a minute to go. Another fumbled caused the clock to run out on St. Francis and give Mendon their 10th state championship in school history.

Interesting Game Points: TCSF had a lot of hustle. They sprint up to the line of scrimmage every play. Mendon linebacker Joe Smith was blocked very well in the first quarter; he made zero tackles but started playing much better in the second quarter. Both teams played a lot of eight men in the box (within 5 yards of the ball before the snap) on defense. Did TCSF’s band really need to play Dancing Queen? The Gladiators turned the ball over five times in the game.