Cranbrook football falls to River Rouge 21-14 in D-4 regional final

By: Mike Moore | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published November 11, 2017

 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood quarterback Trevor McConnell and the offense struggled to get things going Saturday afternoon, falling to River Rouge 21-14 in a D-4 regional final.

Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood quarterback Trevor McConnell and the offense struggled to get things going Saturday afternoon, falling to River Rouge 21-14 in a D-4 regional final.

Photo by Donna Agusti

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — The magical and record-setting run was seeking another playoff lap.

But miscues and mistakes proved too much to overcome, and on a sunny but chilly Saturday afternoon, the Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood football team had its 2017 postseason run come to a close in a 21-14 loss to River Rouge in a Division 4 regional final at home.

“It’s a tough loss,” coach Joe D’Angelo afterwards. “I’m so proud of our kids, but we lost to a very good football team. … We felt we had a great chance to win this game, but this is tough. The kids played their hearts out, and it’s difficult to see it end.”

With two teams that have had no problem scoring all year, assuming this would be a shootout was fair.

But as the day played out, it became more apparent the contest was developing into a defensive struggle.

River Rouge struck in the first quarter, taking a 7-0 lead that carried into halftime.

The Panthers then made it 14-0 in the third quarter as the Cranes’ offense struggle to develop any sort of rhythm. 

Running back Aaron Wiggins changed all that, though, finally getting Cranbrook on the board late in the third on a 15-yard run.

Less than two minutes into the fourth, the Cranes defense got in on the act and after a series of River Rouge penalties backed the team up inside its own 5-yard line, Jack Fairman pounced on a fumble in the end zone to tie the game at 14-14.

The Cranes forced a three-and-out shortly after to get the ball back, but shortly after intercepting a Cranbrook pass, the Panthers got a 60-yard run from Alex Carter on first down and then a 1-yard touchdown run by Carter two plays later with just 6:20 remaining in regulation.

Cranbrook got the ball back twice but turned it over both times, once on an interception in the end zone and the final time on a fumble at the Panthers’ 30-yard line.

“That hurts a lot, especially the last one,” D’Angelo said of the turnovers. “We had a big stop and great field position.”

Cranbrook (10-2) was averaging 35 points per game entering the regional final.

It’s offense totaled just 21 points the past two weeks, however.

“They are pretty good and big up front, which made it hard to run,” D’Angelo said of River Rouge. “In the back, they matched up with our skilled guys. We tried to slow things down a bit, but the offense just never really got going.”

Cranbrook was playing in a regional final for the first time ever.

River Rouge (10-2) moves on to face Edwardsburg High (11-1) next Saturday in a D-4 semifinal at Jackson High.