Lake Shore football upends Fitzgerald in MAC Gold tilt

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Online Only | Published September 7, 2018

 Warren Fitzgerald football coach Gary Skop watches from the sidelines during a Week 2 game against Auburn Hills Avondale. The Spartans fell to 1-2 after a 53-22 Sept. 7 loss to St. Clair Shores Lake Shore.

Warren Fitzgerald football coach Gary Skop watches from the sidelines during a Week 2 game against Auburn Hills Avondale. The Spartans fell to 1-2 after a 53-22 Sept. 7 loss to St. Clair Shores Lake Shore.

Photo by Donna Agusti

 St. Clair Shores Lake Shore junior quarterback Brandon Tatters scrambles during a preseason scrimmage. Tatters in a Sept. 7 win over Warren Fitzgerald threw for 212 yards and three touchdowns.

St. Clair Shores Lake Shore junior quarterback Brandon Tatters scrambles during a preseason scrimmage. Tatters in a Sept. 7 win over Warren Fitzgerald threw for 212 yards and three touchdowns.

Photo by Donna Agusti

 

 

WARREN — In its 53-22 Sept. 7 road win over Warren Fitzgerald, the St. Clair Shores Lake Shore football team accomplished a few things.

 

The Shorians moved to 2-1 on the season with their second straight win and 1-0 in the Macomb Area Conference Gold Division. Lake Shore also has its first winning streak since the final two weeks of the 2015 season.  It’s the earliest Lake Shore has been above .500 since 2010.

 

“We just stuck with what we worked on all week,” Shorians coach Rich Popp said. “We had a tough loss (in overtime to Port Huron Northern) in Week 1, but we saw a lot of good things in that game. We’re starting to see that if we stick with it, good things can happen.”

 

The Spartans (1-2, 0-1 MAC Gold) are under .500 for the first time since Week 5 in 2015. That squad rebounded to make what would be the second of four straight playoff appearances.

 

“We just couldn’t get out of our own way,” Spartans coach Gary Skop said, as Fitzgerald committed 11 penalties. “We have to keep battling. We have to continue to be a team. We can’t give up on each other.”

 

Lake Shore got things started with a bang. On their second possession of the game, Shorians junior quarterback Brandon Tatters on third and 18 hit senior wide receiver Ja’Sean Green on a go route up the left sideline for a 68-yard touchdown pass. A successful two-point try put Lake Shore up 8-0 with 6:51 left in the first quarter.

 

Fitzgerald would respond with a 13-play, 5:24 drive that would end with a 1-yard touchdown run by junior running back Jalen Crawford, who finished with 118 yards rushing. The big play of the possession came when senior quarterback Colton Haberek on fourth and 9 hit senior wide receiver Quanelle Pritchett to give the Spartans first and goal.

 

With 2:22 left in the first half, Fitzgerald pinned Lake Shore inside its 10-yard line. The Shorians came out and made several big plays — a 30-yard run by senior running back Mike Gaiera followed by a 27-yard pass from Tatters to junior receiver Brendan Colley. Later on, Tatters hit senior wide receiver Devin Shaw for a 25-yard completion to keep the drive alive. The drive culminated with a 13-yard touchdown strike from Tatters to senior wideout Robert Turner-Yelder to give the Shorians a 14-6 lead with 24 seconds left in the half. A second successful two-point conversion gave Lake Shore a 16-6 advantage.

 

Tatters ended the half with 142 yards passing and two touchdowns, averaging 23.6 yards per completion.

 

Lake Shore continued to get chunk plays. After a defensive stop, the Shorians took over on their own 38. On second and 7, Tatters found Turner-Yelder on a quick out. Turner-Yelder looked to have lost the ball before gathering it and taking it 43 yards up the left sideline to the Fitzgerald 16. On the next play, Gaiera went 16 yards right up the middle for a score. Another two-point conversion gave Lake Shore a 24-6 lead with 8:20 left in the third.

 

Mike Gaiera’s twin brother, Christian, would find the end zone next. The Shorians forced a Spartans three-and-out. The Lake Shore special teams got to the Fitzgerald punter, swatting the ball out of the sky, allowing Christian Gaiera to scoop the ball up and go 10 yards for a score. The Shorians’ fourth two-point conversion put the team up 32-6 with 6:53 left in the third.

 

“I like playing both sides of the ball,” said Christian Gaiera, who ended with 81 yards rushing. “It just gives you a chance to do more for the team. We’re playing together right now. Our offense is clicking. The defense is making plays.”

 

Fitzgerald answered fast. A penalty gave the Spartans the ball at the Lake Shore 36. Five plays later, Haberek hit Pritchett for a score on a fade route from 10 yards out. Fitzgerald decided to go for two and was successful, cutting the Shorians lead to 32-14 with 5:07 left in the third.

 

Lake Shore extended its lead to 40-14 on a 12-yard touchdown run by Christian Gaiera with 2:42 left in the third quarter. That scoring drive lasted four plays — three of which gained at least 12 yards.

 

“That’s what happens when you play with the tempo we play at,” Popp said. “Four-yard runs become 12-yard runs. Those become 25-yard runs. We were able to make a lot of big plays.”

 

Tatters with 8:36 left in regulation hit senior wide receiver for a 27-yard score to put Lake Shore up 47-14.

 

Fitzgerald’s Owens-Graham on the ensuing kickoff took the ball 75 yards up the left sideline for a touchdown, which was followed by a two-point conversion to cut the Lake Shore lead to 47-22 with 8:26 left in the fourth.

 

Mike Gaiera got his second touchdown run of the night on a 4-yard scamper with 3:15 left to give Lake Shore a 53-22 edge. Mike Gaiera finished with 108 yards rushing and the two touchdowns.

 

“Those two guys are unbelievable,” Popp said of his twin backs. “They work extremely hard and it shows on the field. They also both have 3.8 (grade-point averages), so whatever they decide to do, they’ll be successful.”