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PLAYOFF FOOTBALL: Roosevelt (10-0) hangs on to beat Lincoln (PHOTOS)
Damon Singleton and the Roosevelt Bears squashed Ypsilanti Lincoln's playoff dreams with a 45-40 win in Wyandotte Friday. Photo by Larry Caruso
Donovan Stewart and the Roosevelt Bears led 24-21 at halftime and hung on for a 45-40 victory over Ypsilanti Lincoln in a Division 2 pre-district game in Wyandotte Friday. Photo by Larry Caruso
Every time the Roosevelt football team looked as though it had put the nail in the coffin, Ypsilanti-Lincoln found a way to crawl back out of the grave.
It took 45 points from their offense and a fourth interception with under a minute remaining by their defense, but Roosevelt was finally able to put the Railsplitters away in the pre-districts on Friday night, edging them 45-40 to advance to the district final game next week.
Turnovers seemed to be the name of the game in this one.
A Wyandotte fumble on their opening drive led to a Dalauren Robinson touchdown run in the first quarter for Ypsilanti, but D’Aries Davis made up for the fumble by rumbling downfield for a 64-yard gain, setting up a Kyle Matejko touchdown rush to tie it 7-7 in the first.
Roosevelt’s Andrew Noles picked off an errant pass thrown by Eugene Smith on Ypsilanti’s next drive to set up an eight-yard touchdown scamper by quarterback Donovan Stewart, making it 14-7, Bears.
K.J. Osborn of the Rails then took a Wyandotte kickoff 92 yards to the house to knot the game up at 14.
Each of the next two scores, for both teams, came as a result of turnovers.
A second Noles’ interception led to a Brandon Sowards’ touchdown catch, and a Stewart fumble was returned 42 yards by Jonathan Edwards for a Railsplitters touchdown a little later on.
Each team turned the ball over two times in the first half, as Wyandotte took a 24-21 lead into the break.
After the intermission, the big-time playmakers of each team stepped up.
When Wyandotte scored courtesy of a 20-yard hookup between Stewart and Anthony Desira, the Rails responded with a 24-yard touchdown pass of their own, from Smith to Osborn at the 4:10 mark of the third to cut Wyandotte’s lead down to 31-28.
Following another Sowards’ touchdown catch, Smith threw a ball deep downfield that Austin Petravicius of the Bears was camped under. Petravicius picked it off, sending Wyandotte into the 4th quarter with a 10-point lead.
With only ten minutes left in the game, Wyandotte looked like they had a real chance to kill the clock and pick up the win when they forced Ypsilanti to punt, but a roughing the kicker call allowed the Rails to drive down a short field and punch it into the end zone courtesy of a 6-yard keeper by Smith at the 8:46 mark.
The Bears managed to block the extra point attempt, which made it 38-34, meaning the Rails could not tie it up with a field goal.
On Wyandotte’s next possession, Davis turned in some of his most important runs of the season. The senior was responsible for three first down runs on a drive that knocked over six minutes off the clock.
“Honestly, I think he’s one of the very best players in the league,” Coach Ron Adams said of Davis. “He can do it all; grind out the short yards, make the big play and he did all that tonight. He was limited earlier in the season and I think that’s actually allowed him to be fresher now when we need him most.”
Stewart capped the long drive by throwing his third touchdown pass of the night (fourth TD altogether) to Matejko to make it 45-34 with 1:44 remaining.
Then all hell broke loose.
With no timeouts left, Smith hit Osborn over the middle and just like he had done on his previous scoring plays, Osborn made defenders miss and turned on the jets en route to a shocking 61-yard touchdown with just over a minute to go.
Ypsilanti failed on the two-point attempt, making it 45-40, but recovered the onside kick to make their improbable hopes of pulling the game out a little more realistic.
But on the first play after the recovery, Smith threw his fourth pick of the night when Sowards made another spectacular play, reaching over the top of a Rails receiver to nab the pick.
The Bears then kneeled on the ball to seal the 45-40 pre-district victory.
The loss ended Ypsilanti-Lincoln’s season, a season in which the team went 7-2 before the pre-district loss.
Rails Coach Chris Westfall was emotional after the game.
“I’m just so proud of our guys,” Westfall said. “That game was crazy; I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of anything like that. But hey, they’re a 10-0 team. I’m proud we fought so hard.”
Summarizing the team’s season, Westfall said he’s really going to miss the graduating seniors.
“This year was another huge step for our program,” Westfall said.
“We won the conference title and our JV team went undefeated. But you talk about a (senior) class that helped turn this program around.
“The thing I’m going to miss most is coming out on the field every day and coaching these guys. They were a great, great group.”
Adams had mixed emotions about his team’s performance after the game.
“I’m glad we won,” Adams said. “It looked like we might not for a second. You go into big moments like that on defense and special teams and hope to make the plays you know you need to make but sometimes it doesn’t happen, especially against great teams. We have to get better at hanging on to leads.”
The undefeated Bears will move on to face Truman in the district final next week.
Last Updated: 11/2/2013 12:29:34 PM EST