For the first time in Saline football history, the Hornets are Regional champs. Saline defeated Canton 42-35, at Hornet Stadium Friday. The Hornets set a season record for points in a season with 476. They won 11 games in a single season for the first time. The current 11-game winning streak is tied for second most ever with the 1989-90 seasons. The 1978-80 teams won 18 in a row. Josh Jackson had a career day going 27-33 for 345 yards passing and rushing 14 times for 90 yards. He threw for four touchdowns and ran for two. The defense came up big as usual with Chris Terech leading the way with 21 tackles and two stops of the Chiefs on fourth down.
The Chiefs take the opening kickoff and make quick work with their vaunted ground attack behind the straight T offense. They took only 6 plays and 2:36 of clock time to travel the 65 yards with the last 33 coming on a Brian Newton run. Andrew Loehnis kicked the extra point.
Hornets 0 Chiefs 7
Saline countered with an 11 play drive. Josh Jackson hit Chris Mercer with a six yard pass for the touchdown. Ben Stankovic converted the kick.
Hornets 7 Chiefs 7
Nine consecutive runs ended with a one yard touchdown run by Charles Turfe. They ran 4:07 off the clock and Loehnis added the extra point.
Hornets 7 Chiefs 14
The Hornets go three and out followed by an 11 yard punt setting the Chief up at their own 35. The Chiefs first pass nets one yard but the Hornets are tagged with a personal foul for 15 yards on the play. Marcus Sanders takes the next handoff 49 yards to the end zone. Loehnis kick.
Hornets 7 Chiefs 21
Saline took over with 32 seconds remaining in the first quarter. They carried that drive into the second quarter. Jackson went 4-4 for 76 yards during the drive. The last 23 was a Jackson to Kevin Gross pass in the flat with no defenders in sight. Stankovic kick.
Hornets 14 Chiefs 21
The Hornets still struggled to stop the Chiefs running game. 10 more rushes covered the 74 yards the Chiefs needed to score again. Sanders raced up the middle for 32 yards and his second touchdown. Loehnis kick.
Hornets 14 Chiefs 28
Tyrone Miller runs the ensuing kickoff back 19 yards to the Saline 21 with 4:36 left in the half. Jackson had a piece of 72 of the 79 yards in the drive. A second touchdown pass to Mercer from eight yards out brought the Hornets within seven. Stankovic kick.
Hornets 21 Chiefs 28
Coach Joe Palka then made a huge call. Saline pulled off the perfect onside kick with Stephen Slattery recovering the kick. A 20 yard pass from Jackson to Cole followed by a 16 yard catch and run for Jeb Palka led the Hornets to the Chiefs 19 yard line. Jackson scampers in from four yards out for his first rushing touchdown of the day.
Hornets 28 Chiefs 28
Saline opted to take the ball to start the third quarter. The Chiefs in an attempt to duplicate the Hornets earlier success attempt the onside kick. The ball rolls nine yards and stops. Saline ball since it is required to go ten yards before the kicking team can recover. The Hornets begin at the Chiefs 49 yard line. Jackson is stopped for a two yard loss on first down. A quick pass to Palka for 10 yards makes it third and two from the 41. Gross guts out three yards and a Hornet first down at the 38. The Hornets got another first down at the 24 yard line. Jackson is sacked for a negative nine yards on the next play. Second and 19 from the 33 and Jackson finds Cam Cole of the 33 yard catch and run for the touchdown. Stankovic kick.
Hornets 35 Chiefs 28
The Chiefs started their next drive on their own 25 yard line. 10 running plays later, Canton is at the Saline 5 yard line. Fourth and one. QB Greg Williams ran a keeper around the right end but was met by Chris Terech and stopped for no gain. Hornet ball at the five. The Hornets go three and out.
On a drive that started at the Hornet 35 in the third quarter, the Chiefs had second and two to start the fourth quarter. Greg Williams finds a wide open Nolan Gilo in the end zone for the touchdown just six second in. Loehnis kick.
Hornets 35 Chiefs 35
Canton kicks off out of bounds and Saline takes over at the 35 yard line. Jackson opened with back to back passes to Cole netting 17 yards. Palka catches a Jackson pass for 24 yards but a Saline hold is called. Saline was still at first and ten from the Canton 34 yard line. Jackson passed to Bryce Wolma for eight yards. One run each by Gross and Jackson net zero yards. On fourth and two, Jackson again finds Wolma over the middle for eight yards and a first down at the 18. A sweep by Palka is stopped for no gain. Jackson calls his own number on a quarterback draw and ran up the middle before cutting to the right corner of the end zone for the touchdown. Stankovic kick.
Hornets 42 Chiefs 35
With 7:52 remaining in the quarter, there was plenty of time for the Chiefs. The short kickoff is run back for 14 yards. The Chiefs found themselves 67 yards from a possible tying touchdown. The Hornets had a great defensive effort forcing the Chiefs into a fourth and seven. After each team used a time out, Williams found Micah Rinke for a 17 yard gain and a first down. Again the Hornets defense stepped up forcing a third and seven. Again a Williams pass, this time to Brian Newton for 15 yards produced another first down. The Chiefs had a first down at the Hornets 29. Sanders ran up the middle for two yards. Sanders again up the middle for two yards. On third and six, Newton gets the handoff but is stopped for a four yard gain. With 1:55 remaining and fourth and two, Wiiliams again tried the quarterback keeper but he s stood up by Terech for no gain. Turnover on downs to the Hornets.
Final Score Saline Hornets 42 Canton Chiefs 35
The Hornets traded touchdowns with the Chiefs on each of the first possessions making the score 7-7 with 6:05 remaining in the first quarter. But the Hornets had no answer in the first quarter for the Wing T offense. The Chiefs would score two more touchdowns to lead 21-7. The 14 point deficit was the largest of the year for the Hornets. Canton would run for 183 yards on 15 carries in that first quarter. Saline scored quickly in the second quarter to get back to a 21-14 score. However another 74 yards rushing by the Chiefs would duplicate that 14 point deficit with 4:36 remaining in the half. The Hornets bounced back on a Jackson to Mercer eight yard touchdown pass, 28-21. There was 2:06 left in the half, so if the Hornets could just slow down the Chiefs and make them run out the clock they would be down seven and getting the ball first to start the second half. Head Coach Joe Palka made the call that changed the game. William Breen placed the perfect onside kick that Stephen Slattery recovered for the Hornets at the Chiefs 46. Seven plays later, Jackson scored on a four yard run. Saline tied with Canton at the half. Canton Head Coach Tim Baechler then thought he needed to reverse the momentum and attempted an onside kick of his own. Unfortunately the ball only rolled nine yards and stopped, giving the ball to the Hornets at the Chiefs 49. Jackson would find Cole for a 33 yard touchdown and the Hornets led for the first time of the night, 35-28. A huge fourth and one stop at the Hornets five yard line by Terech stopped the Chiefs drive. Saline could not move the ball from their five and punted away. The Chiefs scored on the first play of the fourth quarter, a pass from Williams to Gilo tied the game at 35. Jackson leads the Hornets on their own 65 yard drive going 5-5 for 57 yards and running the final 18 yards for the touchdown himself. The Hornets would lead 42-35 with 7:52 left in the game. Canton would not give up; they moved the ball to the Hornet 21 yard line. They would find themselves facing a fourth and one. Williams ran the quarterback keeper but again Terech used his 21st tackle of the game to stop Williams for no gain. Saline ball. On first down, Jackson ran up the middle for 29 yards. Three plays by the Hornets and Canton using all of their time outs forced the Hornets to punt and Canton had seven seconds on the clock at their own 27. A completed pass, a lateral and a game ending tackle by Stephen Slattery finished off the Hornets first Regional title.
Saline will now play in the state semifinals next week.
The opponent will be the winner of Cass Tech and Chippewa Valley (1 p.m. Saturday)
The semifinal location will be determined by the MHSAA after tomorrow’s games
The time will also be determined but most likely Saturday at 1p.m.
Those three variables will be decided some time tomorrow and Saline has no control over that.
However, one item is determined THE SALINE HORNETS will be in that game.
|Time of Possession||27:20||20:40|
|Passing:||Josh Jackson 27-33 345 yards 4 tds|
|Rushing:||Josh Jackson 14 carries 90 yards 2 tds|
|Receiving:||Jeb Palka 10 catches 112 yards|
|Cam Cole 7 catches 112 yards 1 td|
|Chris Mercer 5 catches 45 yards 2 tds|
|Bryce Wolma 4 catches 53 yards|
|Kevin Gross 1 catch 23 yards 1 td|
|Defense:||Chris Terech 21 tackles 1 TFL|
|Grant Ellis 11 tackles|
|Travis Brown 11 tackles|
|Cal Livesay 10 tackles|
|Colin Payne 8 tackles|
|Brandon Baldus 8 tackles|
|John Raupp 7 tackles 1 TFL|
|Sean O'Keefe 7 tackles|