Overtime Field Goal Beats St. Mary's in State Title Game
Grand Rapids Christian takes Div. 3 championship in a thriller, 40-37.
DETROIT — The final seconds of the Div. 3 state championship game on Saturday came down to the firepower offense of Grand Rapids Christian against the stout defense of Orchard Lake St. Mary's. That didn't seem to surprise head coach George Porritt.
However, Porritt's Eaglets could not keep Christian senior kicker Joel Schipper from making neither a field goal with four seconds remaining to tie the game at 37 points nor the thrilling winner in overtime.
St. Mary's had possession first in overtime, but could not convert a pass from senior Matt Linehan to senior Parker McInnis in the end zone on fourth down, forcing a turnover. Christian coach Don Fellows sent his field goal team out on first down and Schipper came through.
"They're a big play team and I could see it out there today," Porritt said of the Eagles, who won their first state title at Ford Field. "You've got to hang in there. I thought we did and just came up a little short."
The Eagles (13-1) were led by 6'4" junior wide receiver Drake Harris, who became just the 12th player nationally to receive for over 2,000 yards in a single season, finishing with 2,016. He caught two passes on fourth down to keep the final drive alive and scored on a 74-yard pass in the second quarter, finishing with 243 yards on eight receptions.
"It's big time stuff. Every time they needed a big play, they threw it out to him," Porritt said of Harris.
St. Mary's (11-3) set a state final record for total yards (579), led by senior backfield mates Grant Niemiec (168 yards, three touchdowns) and Parker McInnis (269 yards on 25 attempts). Senior Matt Linehan finished 9-of-14 for 120 yards and one touchdown — a bullet pass to sophomore Van Jefferson, who blew by the defense in the second quarter for a 33-yard touchdown.
"I can't be more proud of any senior class that's come out of St. Mary's," Porritt said. "It's a wonderful class. A lot of fun."
After going into the half trailing 20-14, the Eaglets mounted a comeback which made the lead change five times in the fourth quarter and overtime. The teams set a state final record for total offense as they combined for 1,033 yards.
The finale wasn't much like last year's blowout victory in the title game against Mt. Pleasant, but it did evoke some memories of the Eaglets' five-overtime title game loss in 2007 against East Grand Rapids. That game had been the last football title game to be decided in overtime.