Orchard Lake St. Mary’s falls to East Grand Rapids once again in the Division 3 football finals

Jake Thielen | MLive.com, November 28, 2010 12:52 a.m.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s struggles against East Grand Rapids continued as the Eaglets were defeated in the Division 3 high school football championship game, 35-27, Saturday night.

The loss gave Orchard Lake St. Mary’s its third runner-up finish in Division 3 since 2007, with all three losses coming against East Grand Rapids. In the 2007 finals, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s lost 46-39 in a five-overtime thriller. In 2009, the Eaglets lost by a score of 24-21.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s is 0-5 all-time against East Grand Rapids.

“They’re a great football team, and we’ve lost some great football games to them,” Orchard Lake St. Mary’s coach George Porritt said. “We’re right there; we’ve just got to keep battling.”

Defensively, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s was unable to slow down East Grand Rapids quarterback Ryan Elble, who led the Pioneers to their fifth consecutive state championship, which ties a state record. Elble threw for 241 yards on 17-of-24 passing with four touchdowns.

“He’s a special player, there’s no question about it,” Porritt said of Elble. “What makes him special is he puts the ball where you’re going to catch it. It’s one thing to throw it, but he puts it where you’re going to catch it.”

Offensively, the Eaglets were led by their trio of running backs. Grant Niemiec had 70 yards on 12 carries, including touchdowns runs of 9 and 12 yards. Corey Lucas had 69 yards and a touchdown, and Spencer McInnis added six carries for 38 yards.

The Eaglets rushed for 186 yards as a team compared to 117 for East Grand Rapids.

Porritt said the success of the running game is one positive that the Eaglets can take away from this season.

“We ran the ball extremely well today,” Porritt said. “You just didn’t need to get stopped one time against this team.”

“You had to always execute and we had a couple stops that hurt us.”

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s finished the season with an 11-3 record. Porritt said he was pleased with his team’s effort despite the loss.

“I’m very proud of this group of kids,” Porritt said. “They just battled all year long and had some great victories, and getting here was a big thing.

“We wanted to win this thing, but we lost to a good football team.”

Orchard lake St. Mary’s had the lead early following Lucas’s 4-yard touchdown run with 7:10 left in the first quarter. East Grand Rapids scored 14 straight points to take the lead before Niemiec’s first touchdown run with 5:45 left in the second quarter tied the game again.

East Grand Rapids responded with a touchdown pass from Elble to Nick Mulhall with 25 seconds left in the half that put the Pioneers up for good.

Niemiec’s second touchdown with 2:25 left in the third quarter brought the Eaglets within eight points following a missed PAT. However, the Pioneers answered with a 16-play, 68-yard drive that culminated with a touchdown to extend the deficit to two scores.

Porritt said that long East Grand Rapids drive was the difference in the game.

“Any time you can have that many plays in a drive, that’s what we’re trying to do,” Porritt said. “They put it right back at us.”

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s quarterback Mike Koenigsknecht’s touchdown pass to Allen Robinson with 3:39 left cut the lead to eight again, but the Eaglets did not get the ball back. Robinson finished with just two catches for 31 yards.

Porritt said Robinson was battling a hamstring injury that limited his effectiveness.

“He couldn’t go the way he wanted, not to make excuses,” Porritt said. “He was good in the 15-yard range, but he couldn’t go (farther down the field).

“I was afraid he would get hurt today, and I’m happy he got through it.”

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Posted on April 27, 2011, in MLive, Sports and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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