Detroit Catholic Central Sophomore WR #12 Alexander Bock hauls in a late 4th quarter pass from Senior QB #11 Sean Birney at the 4-yard line setting up CC’s go ahead touchdown. (For The Oakland Press/Timothy Arrick)
FOOTBALL: Catholic Central uses late scoring drive to outlast Bedford in thriller WITH TOUT VIDEOS
A desperation Hail Mary by Bedford Senior QB Brad Boss is intercepted at the goal line by Detroit Catholic Central’s #10 Senior DB Jack Van Acker as time expires giving Catholic Central the Division 1 Region 3 title with a 34-33 victory over Bedford. (For The Oakland Press/Timothy Arrick)
Alec Hullibarger lunges across the endzone late in the fourth quarter to give Bedford a 33-28 lead over DCC. (For The Oakland Press/Timothy Arrick)
Detroit Catholic Central raises the trophy after their thrilling 34-33 shootout victory over Temperance Bedford.
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TEMPERANCE — While Novi Detroit Catholic Central isn’t well known for its passing attack, the Shamrock’s passing game has made itself well-known in the postseason.
After playing a key role in last week’s district final, the Catholic Central aerial attack came up big once again on Friday night in the regional finals against Temperance Bedford.
After Bedford scored with 1:56 to take a 33-28 lead, Catholic Central quarterback Sean Birney marched the Shamrocks down the field, completing five of six pass attempts on the drive, including two passes to Michael Nercesian to get the Shamrocks into scoring range.
Then, with just 30 seconds left to play, Birney connected with tight end Nicholas Cococcetta on a 4-yard touchdown pass to lift the Shamrocks to a thrilling 34-33 win over a previously unbeaten Bedford squad.
“I saw him there and I knew he was going to get it,” said Birney of his game-winning toss to Cococcetta. “That guy’s got the best hands I’ve ever seen, so I knew he was going to get that one.”
Catholic Central head coach Tom Mach said that with the way the second half had played out, he felt that whoever had the ball last would win, and added that time simply ran out on Bedford after the Kicking Mules took the ball over with less than 30 seconds left to play.
“In the second half, we traded touchdowns back and forth and it just seemed like whoever had the football last was going to win,” he said. “They (Bedford) just ran out of time, and that was really the only thing that stopped them, we had a hard time stopping them. Running out of time was the best thing that happened for us.”
The Shamrocks now advance to the Division 1 state semifinals where they will face the winner of the Macomb Dakota-Detroit Cass Tech regional final, which will take place Saturday.
In the second half, Catholic Central and Bedford exchanged touchdowns for the entirety of the third and fourth quarters, but the Kicking Mules took their first lead of the game on the first play of the fourth quarter on a touchdown run by Alec Hullibarger to give his team a 27-21 advantage.
On the next Shamrock drive, Catholic Central took the lead back on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Sean Birney to Zach Bock to put the Shamrocks back on top, 28-27.
Birney, who threw for 178 yards on the day and three touchdowns, said that with Catholic Central usually using its punishing rushing attack, he’s making the most out of his opportunity to throw the ball around a little more than what he was used to in the regular season.
“I love it,” said Birney, whose first of three touchdown passes in the game went to Alex Bock on an 80-yard score. “It can get boring back there just handing the ball off, so I love being able to air it out a little bit more.”
Bedford scored with just two minutes left on a 15-yard touchdown run by Hullibarger to put Bedford back on top one last time, before Catholic Central drove down for the winning score.
Mach said that after Bedford scored to take the lead back, the plan was simple for his team to go down and score, but praised his players for their ability to run the two-minute drill to near perfection after not using it all season long.
“The plan was to score, but we had to move the ball down the entire field to do it,” he said. “So we went to the two-minute drill, and we haven’t used that all year, but we did use it today and it was people making plays and getting the job done and our kids hung in there very tough and I’m very proud of them. It got to a certain point of the game and you only have a minute something left, you have to gut it out the best you can and we did and made plays and we were happy about that.”
A Connor Holton touchdown run, along with the 80-yard score from Birney to Alex Bock gave the Shamrocks an early 14-0 lead, but two Bedford touchdowns in the final 2:39 of the first half, a 56 yard touchdown run by Brad Boss and a 10-yard pass from Boss to Collin Carter tied the game at 14-14 heading to halftime.