The score: 9, Orchard Lake St. Mary's 10 (OT)
The star: St. Mary's senior wide receiver Christopher Woolen scored the game's winning touchdown in overtime off of a pass from Dan Clements, and senior kicker Nathan Parry booted the game-winning extra point. However, senior linebacker James Ross made it all possible with several key tackles that held Brother Rice to only nine points.
The turning point: Down 9-3 in overtime, on third-and-goal from the 17 in a downpour, Clements threw from the shotgun and hit Woolen at the 7-yard-line on a curl route. Woolen broke three tackles on his way to the end zone to tie the game, and Parry clinched it with the extra point.
The quote: "I caught it and turned around and saw a seam — broad daylight." — Woolen.
What’s next? Brother Rice will hit the road to take on , while St. Mary's will travel to Warren to play De La Salle. Both games are next Friday.
Bottom line: Given the stakes — Brother Rice head coach Al Fracassa's 400th win and St. Mary's head coach George Porritt's 199th — everyone watching expected a war and they got their money's worth. This game, regardless of who won, will make both teams better in the long run. However, St. Mary's did greatly improve their chances of winning the Catholic Central Division over the Warriors.
Birmingham Brother Rice 9, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 10 (OT)
BBR – 0 3 0 0 - 6 – 9
OLSM – 0 0 3 0 – 7 – 10
BBR: Toth 25 field goal
OLSM: Parry 17 field goal
BBR: Roney 9 pass from Lacanaria (Toth miss)
OLSM: Woolen 17 pass from Clements (Parry kick)
BBR: Church 18-111, Walker 4-58, Marzec 1-13, Brown 8-24, Ellwanger 1-minus-2, Echols 3-6. Totals: 35-210. OLSM: Niemiec 19-92, McInnis 17-44, Smith 6-23, McInnis 3-2, Clements 2-minus-2.
BBR: Lacanaria 3-7-28-0, Rao 3-5-21-0. Totals: 6-12-49-0. OLSM: Clements 1-7-17-1.
BBR: Ferguson 1-6, Warner 2-17, Church 1-3, Roney 2-23. Totals: 6-49. OLSM: Woolen 1-17.
BBR: 5-25. OLSM: 2-10.
BBR: 4-2 (1-2 Catholic Central). OLSM: 5-1 (2-0 Catholic Central).
ORCHARD LAKE — For a game between two Catholic Central Division rivals featuring two smash mouth defenses and stout running attacks, fans of Orchard Lake St. Mary's and Birmingham Brother Rice got everything they came for Friday night.
For Brother Rice, that is to say, everything but win No. 400 for legendary head coach Al Fracassa.
The Eaglets outlasted the Warriors in overtime by a score of 10-9 after senior quarterback Dan Clements completed a pass to senior wide receiver Christopher Woolen for a touchdown and senior kicker Nathan Perry made the extra point.
For St. Mary's head coach George Porritt, who took win No. 199 with the homecoming game victory, all the credit for that play went to Woolen.
"A great throw by Danny and Chris Woolen, wow, what a big time play. He’s very deserving of that play, he’s worked hard all year to make that big play and I’m very proud," Porritt said.
The Eaglets found their chance under desperate circumstances. On third-and-goal from the Warriors' 17, Clements took the snap from the shotgun formation and tossed to Woolen on a curl route to make his only completion of the game. Woolen caught the ball at the 7-yard-line and beat three tackles to reach the end zone.
"I caught it and turned around and saw a seam — broad daylight," Woolen said.
"Amazing. Greatest feeling of my life. Against our rivals. I'll see you at Ford Field," he added with a laugh.
If the Eaglets can get a performance like Friday night's out of their defense for every game, Woolen could well be right. St. Mary's held the Warriors to just three points in the first half and none in the second half. They also held Brother Rice's vaunted backfield without a first down to until late in the fourth quarter.
University of Michigan-bound senior linebacker James Ross was the star again, making several key tackles including a crucial stop of star Warriors' running back Devin Church on fourth down late in the game.
With 2:13 left to go in the fourth quarter and ball in the Warriors' possession on the Eaglets' 20-yard-line, Fracassa chose to go for the first down on fourth-and-two instead of sending out a kicker for a field goal attempt. He opted to send Church up the middle, where the Eaglets' star, Ross, was waiting, and forced a a one-yard loss.
"Big thing we knew that Church, what an outstanding back he is, was that Ross really had to key in on him, because that kid is just so quick. James is a special player and you could see his instincts take over," Porritt said.
The Eaglets forced overtime and the Warriors scored the game's first touchdown soon thereafter. Junior quarterback Cheyne Lacanaria hit senior wideout Brian Roney with a nine-yard pass for a score that quieted the St. Mary's crowd that quickly became anxious that Brother Rice could score its first-ever win at Msgr. Milewski Field.
Instead, the Eaglets walked away winners. It's a good start for a difficult remaining schedule, as St. Mary's will travel to Warren next week to play De La Salle (4-1, 1-1) in search of Porritt's 200th win.
Meanwhile, Brother Rice will try again for Fracassa's 400th against Catholic Central (5-0, 2-0). Both games are next Friday at 7 p.m.