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October 16, 2013

South upends North

Fake punt in fourth quarter sparks Blue Devils to victory

By Thomas Franz
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
South quarterback Richie Kish tries to avoid being tackled by North’s Ken Elkin.
North’s Tod Long receives a handoff from Daniel Robinson. Long rushed for 42 yards on 13 carries against South.
 

GROSSE POINTE — With his offense stagnant for the better part of three quarters Friday night, Grosse Pointe South coach Tim Brandon knew his team needed to be ignited if the Blue Devils were going to get a school-record fourth win in a row against their crosstown rivals.

Down three and facing a fourth down near midfield with 11 minutes remaining, Brandon dialed up a fake punt pass play that would change the course of the contest.

Sam Blanzy threw to his twin brother, Brian, for a 19-yard gain on the play in which Sam took the snap as if he was going to punt it away but then stepped up and hit Brian in the flat for the crucial gain.

“We got that twin connection; it was just really exciting. We saw that their outside linebacker was blitzing in and just leaving Brian wide open, so I just wanted to throw it to him one play,” Sam Blanzy said.

South’s Richie Kish would complete three consecutive passes following the trick play to set up a 9-yard touchdown run by Sam Hunter to put the Blue Devils ahead 14-10.

South’s defense, seemingly energized by the momentum swing, forced a three-and-out on the ensuing North possession to give South the ball back at North’s 45.

Four rushing plays set up a 2-yard touchdown by Ryan Liagre to give South a 21-10 lead with just less than three minutes to go.

South’s Joshua Gray recorded two interceptions on North’s two final drives in the closing moments to seal the game.

With the win, South moves to 4-3 on the season and will face L’Anse Creuse and Lakeview to close out the regular season.

“Our big three goals each year are to beat North, win the division and make the playoffs. This game kept us in line to do all three of those things,” Brandon said.

North quarterback Daniel Robinson led his squad with 92 yards rushing and a touchdown.

“Dan (Robinson) got a little banged up in the first half, so his leg was bothering him; he lost his footing a couple times. You can’t put it all on one guy; the whole team has to block, and we have to be able to execute our offense, and we didn’t do a good enough job of that or on defense. In the fourth quarter, they controlled it,” North coach Frank Sumbera said.

Although Robinson scored on his second carry of the game with a 74-yard sideline sprint to the end zone, the dual-threat quarterback was held to 18 yards on 11 rushes after his big play.

“Everyone on our defensive line, not just the starting four but the top six, are all big, strong, tough kids, and we knew that they would be able to box him in. We knew he would bounce a couple outside, but we knew that they weren’t going to run between the tackles on our kids,” Brandon said.

North controlled the line of scrimmage in the first half when South had possession. Hunter was held to 34 yards on 11 carries in the first half, but he, along with South’s offensive line, took control of the game in the fourth quarter, as Hunter finished the contest with 128 yards on 24 carries.

“In the beginning, they (South offensive linemen) were a little tentative. They weren’t getting off the ball, and we were getting knocked back a little bit. Once we started to get first downs, those linemen got confidence — and they were staying low, and they were really taking the game for them. The holes opened up for Sam (Hunter), and he’s a great running back,” Brandon said.

North now leads the overall series between the two schools 28-17. After losing seven games in a row to North, South has now taken the last four contests, making it the longest win-streak against North in school history.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Thomas Franz at tfranz@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1040.