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Southfield, Detroit, Orchard Lake

August 29, 2014

St. Mary's football team upends Southfield High 21-19 in annual Prep Kickoff Classic

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Southfield's Ray Buford (6) battles for one of his two touchdown's in Friday's game against St. Mary's. The Eaglets held on for a 21-19 victory at Wayne State University.

DETROIT — After playing in four consecutive state championship games, the Orchard Lake St. Mary’s football team found itself on the outside looking in when it came to the 2013 playoff bracket.

And a big reason for that was surrendering a two-score lead in a 25-20 loss to Oak Park High in the Detroit Sports Commission Prep Kickoff Classic to open the season.

A new year, and a lesson learned.

Playing in the 2014 Kickoff Classic, the Eaglets built a 14-0 lead and hung on to defeat Southfield High 21-19 Friday evening at Wayne State University’s Adams Field.

“A great win, huge for us,” said St. Mary’s coach George Porritt. His squad started the season with a victory for the first time in three years. “This was a tough test against a very good team. I’m very happy we were able to come out of here on top.”

St. Mary’s best drive of the first half carried from the first quarter into the second.

With 10:19 to play in the second frame, Pierce Bauer capped the 12-play, 52-yard march with a 1-yard run and an eventual 7-0 lead.

The Eaglets made it 14-0 roughly four minutes later when Brandon Tabone hit Tyson Smith in stride for a 60-yard touchdown pass.

The play came just moments after a holding call cancelled out a 56-yard touchdown pass.

“We still knew the game wasn’t over,” Smith said with a smile. “We were up two scores on Oak Park last year and still lost. This one was far from over.”

Southfield gave itself some life at the end of the first half.

On the ensuing drive after the Eaglets’ score, Southfield's Kanye Harris found Ray Buford on a screen play on fourth-and-14, and Buford scampered 28 yards to score with just 29 seconds remaining in the half.

After a missed extra point, Southfield trailed 14-6 at the break.

St. Mary’s added to its lead two minutes into the second half when Kahlee Hamler went untouched for a 48-yard punt return touchdown.

The teams traded turnovers early in the fourth quarter.

St. Mary’s Devin Defrances picked off a Southfield pass to end one drive, but the Eaglets fumbled it away on the next play and Southfield's Aaron Cooper scooped up the loose ball. On the Jays’ next offensive play, Harris hit Dior Johnson with a 57-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-12.

Southfield went for a 2-point conversion, but failed.

The Blue Jays made it 21-18 with 1:25 remaining in regulation when Harris hit Buford again, this time for a 21-yard touchdown pass, but St. Mary’s recovered the onside kick and ran the clock out.

“I thought we played well,” Porritt added. “Our offense made some mistakes with the turnovers, and our defense was on the field way too much, but they had a real strong game.”

Smith was named Most Outstanding Player of the game for St. Mary’s.

Harris earned the same award for Southfield.

The Eaglets (1-0) host Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy at 7 p.m. Sept. 5.

Southfield (0-1) travels to play at Rochester Adams at 7 p.m. Sept. 5.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.