Macomb County, Wayne CountyAugust 30, 2012
Mustangs outlast Pioneers
By Jon Malavolti
C & G Sports Writer
MACOMB TOWNSHIP – Fresh off its thrilling season-opening win on the road last week at Yale, Macomb Lutheran North’s football team was eager to play its first home game of the year.
But the Mustangs may have been caught a little off guard as former Metro Conference rival Harper Woods High got on the scoreboard quickly.
Yet Lutheran North wasn’t dismayed, marching up and down the field and scoring 28 unanswered points on their way to a 31-19 win.
“They come out, they drive down the field 80 yards,” Lutheran North coach Ryan Wesley said of Harper Woods’ early score. “Our kids could have given up, and they didn’t. They turned it around and drove right back.”
On the game’s opening drive, Pioneers junior quarterback Jeremy Abbott connected with Ali Rohaman on a fourth-down pass, and the receiver scampered past the Lutheran North defense for a 20-yard touchdown.
Lutheran North tied the game several minutes later near the end of the quarter on a 25-yard touchdown run by Trevor Mason. The junior running back finished the game with three touchdowns and 111 yards on just 12 carries. His longest run of the day was also a touchdown — a 51-yard burst that put the Mustangs comfortably up 28-7 early in the second half.
“When he gets the ball, it is tough to bring him down,” Wesley said of Mason. “He’s fast, he’s big, he’s strong.”
Mustangs junior quarterback William Kruse threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Travis McConnell midway through the second quarter to put Lutheran North up 14-7. Kruse finished the day 13-of-21 passing for 157 yards.
But Harper Woods wasn’t ready to roll over. The Pioneers scored a pair of second-half touchdowns thanks to a 3-yard scoring run by senior Corey Cox in the third quarter and a 4-yard pass from Abbott to senior Joe Shazier with three minutes to play. Shazier also converted the Pioneers lone successful extra point following their first-quarter score.
“Harper Woods didn’t give up all day,” North coach Wesley said.
Pioneers coach Brian Barnes would have liked to see his team come out on top, but was impressed with the improvement it showed from last week’s game, a loss at Clawson High.
“We moved the ball a little bit better,” Barnes said. “Our defense played really well. I know the score doesn’t say it, but our defense played really well. So we feel really good going forward. There’s no shame losing to a good program the first two weeks. We just have to correct some things and move forward.”
Lutheran North senior kicker J.J. McGrath tallied the final points of the night, giving the Mustangs a 31-13 lead on a 54-yard field goal with a little more than six minutes to play. McGrath also connected on all four of his extra points on the evening and routinely sent his kickoffs into the back of the end zone. But his biggest play of the night might have been the one time he didn’t, and Harper Woods nearly returned a kickoff for a touchdown, but McGrath made a solid tackle on the returner just before he broke free for daylight.
Lutheran North improved to 2-0 on the season, while Harper Woods fell to 0-2.
The Mustangs next host Livonia Clarenceville at 7 p.m. Sept. 7. The Pioneers play at Muskegon Heights next at 1 p.m. Sept. 8.