Late TD pass pushes L'Anse Creuse football past Sterling Heights, to top of MAC Gold

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Online Only | Published October 18, 2019

 Harrison Township L'Anse Creuse wide receiver Malachi Lewis hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Lancers 23-20 Oct. 18 win over Sterling Heights High. L'Anse Creuse in the game won a share of the Macomb Area Conference Gold division championship.

Harrison Township L'Anse Creuse wide receiver Malachi Lewis hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Lancers 23-20 Oct. 18 win over Sterling Heights High. L'Anse Creuse in the game won a share of the Macomb Area Conference Gold division championship.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

 Sterling Heights High running back Adarian Gamage looks to make a play in a 23-20 Oct. 18 loss to Harrison Township L'Anse Creuse. The Stallion and Lancers with the result share the Macomb Area Conference Gold division title.

Sterling Heights High running back Adarian Gamage looks to make a play in a 23-20 Oct. 18 loss to Harrison Township L'Anse Creuse. The Stallion and Lancers with the result share the Macomb Area Conference Gold division title.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

STERLING HEIGHTS — The Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse football team has gone from the outhouse to the penthouse.

The Lancers' 23-20 thrilling Oct. 18 win over Sterling Heights High gives L’Anse Creuse a share of the Macomb Area Conference Gold championship. The Lancers (5-3, 4-1 MAC Gold) share the league title with the Stallions (5-3, 4-1 MAC Gold). Both teams finished at the bottom of the league in 2018.

L’Anse Creuse now has its first division title since 2000.

“I talked with our eighth grade players and told them to stay at L’Anse Creuse, because we’re going to have a championship program,” first-year Lancers coach Orande Roy said. “We’re co-division champs. That turnaround has happened pretty fast.”

The win gives the Lancers the same number of victories the program had over the previous six seasons. The triumph came on a playcall Roy says he held until the “right time.”

On first and 10 from the Sterling Heights 27-yard line with a shade over a minute left in regulation, L’Anse Creuse senior quarterback Brandon Tatters — throwing off his back foot with defenders barreling down on him — found senior wide receiver Malachi Lewis for a touchdown with 1 minute left to play, giving the Lancers a 23-20 advantage.

L’Anse Creuse over the course of the game had thrown to its running backs in the flats. On the game-winning score, Tatters faked the throw into the flat and came back to Lewis.

“We called for the fake and had the receivers run seam routes,” said Roy, whose team is now one win from the program’s first playoff berth since 2003.

Tatters said he trusted in Roy’s call and that he knew Lewis would make a play. Tatters threw for 158 yards and two scores — both to Lewis.

“We all trusted in coach Roy that we would be in games like this,” Tatters said. “For the last three years, things were rough for everybody in the program. It means a lot to all of us to accomplish this.”

The game-winning score came after Sterling Heights, which won its first division title since 2015, rallied from down 17-6 late in the second quarter to take a 20-17 lead on a 20-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Chris Edwards to senior tight end Kas Juncaj with 9:31 to play in the game. Edwards finished with a game-high 184 yards and three touchdowns. Juncaj caught two passes for 63 yards and two scores.

Sterling Heights’ last outright division title came in 2008. Edwards said standing alone atop the division was the goal this season too.

“We all kind of said we’d be disappointed if we didn’t win it outright,” Edwards said. “But now we have to focus on getting our sixth win next week and getting to the playoffs. We’ve been wanting to put ourselves in the position to play at least one extra football game for the entire time I’ve been here.”

Special teams played a big role in the game.

On a Sterling Heights punt early in the contest, Lancers junior linebacker Josh Walters blocked the punt, scooped the ball up and scored from 4 yards out to put L’Anse Creuse up 7-0 1:23 into the contest.

“That wasn’t our first block of the season, but it was our first scoop and score,” Roy said. “That was a big play.”

The Lancers defense made big plays all night too. The team forced four Stallions turnovers — two in each half. L'Anse Creuse had a plus-3 turnover margin.

L’Anse Creuse’s regular-season finale is against Fraser High at 7 p.m. Oct. 25 at home.

Sterling Heights' final regular-season game is against Warren Cousino at 7 p.m. Oct. 25 on the road.