Saline’s defense recovered three fumbles and held Skyline to a single touchdown in a 31-6 victory at Hornet Stadium Friday.
Saline, which has won four straight games, improved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the SEC Red.
Brendan Munday ran 19 times for two touchdowns. Hayden Scott and MJ Griffin also ran for touchdowns while JT Turner kicked a 25-yard field goal and four extra points.
In terms of yardage, the Hornets were outgained by the Eagles, 282-232, but Saline took advantage of three Skyline turnovers and short fields on two scoring drives early in the game and never looked back. The Hornets didn’t commit a turnover, and while coach Joe Palka was not pleased by Saline’s five penalties for 50 yards – it was much better than Skyline’s 10 penalties for 95 yards.
“It’s a good win because I think we were steady throughout the game. We wanted to have a better third quarter than we’ve had the past few weeks. Now, was it perfect? No, but good teams don’t beat themselves and I think, for the most part, we played good solid football and kept getting better as the game wore on,” Palka said. “It’s a good team win. We showed we’re young at times. We’re still going to make young player mistakes. That’s the kind of stuff we have to work on to keep getting better.”
Friday was military appreciation night and hometown hero night at Hornet Stadium. Service men and women, police officers, firefighters and other first responders were honored. The Hornet Stadium crowd was set abuzz when 2000 Saline graduate and Michigan Army National Guard Major Jeremy Bernard piloted a Chinook helicopter over Hornet Stadium just as the band finished the Star Spangled Banner.
Joel Klomega returned the opening kickoff 48 yards to give Saline a first down at the Skyline 38. Saline got the ball down to the Skyline 5 but failed to convert on 4th-and1 and the Eagles took over. Three plays later, Saline forced a fumble and LB Alex Morrison recovered. The Hornets took over at the Skyline 26. MJ Griffin ran for an 11-yard pick up. Munday followed with a seven-yard gain.
On the next down, Griffin finessed his way for six yards and then powered through the Eagles for the final two yards for an eight-yard TD run. Saline led 7-0.
Saline’s defense came up big again on the next drive, forcing another fumble by athletic Skyline quarterback Davion Pipkins. This time Andy Clark recovered for the Hornets. Saline took over at the 29. Andrew Arbaugh passed to Hayden Scott for a 25 yard pick up.
On the next play, Munday bulled the line for a one-yard touchdown. Saline led 14-0.
The Eagles’ next drive began at their 23. It took the Eagles more than five minutes to work their way to the Saline 42, where they faced a 4th-and-1. But a holding penalty sent them back 10 yards – setting up a 4th-and-14. Skyline punted on the first play of the second quarter. Saline took over at their own 35. The Hornets went 3-and-out. Brendan Cropsey’s 42 yard punt was downed at the Skyline 19. This time Saline’s defense gave up nothing. After Kyle Greenwood’s sack on third down, Skyline punted. Saline took over at the Skyline 44. The Hornets shot themselves in the foot with penalties a few times. On 4th-and-7 from the Skyline 8, Turner kicked a 25-yard field goal. Saline led 17-0 with 4:11 to play in the half.
The first half ended with the Hornets staging a defensive stand inside the Saline five for the third game in four outings. Skyline had a first down at the Saline 11. The Eagles gained six yards on the ground on first down. On second down, Kyle Greenwood stopped the Skyline runner for a three-yard loss. The Eagles got four yards back on third down, setting up a 4th-and-3 at the Saline 4. After each team called time out, the teams were ready for Skyline’s do-or-die moment with 28 seconds left in the half. Skyline fumbled the snap and the Eagles turned the ball over on downs.
Saline led 17-0 at halftime.
Coach Palka wanted to see a better third quarter – and he got. Skyline opened the third quarter that moved the chains once, but ultimately went backwards. Brad Wisniewski and Adonis Gammo sacked Pipkins on 3rd-and-24. Skyline punted from their 19. Saline took over at the 28. Munday and Klomega banged away for nine yards on three rushes, setting up a 4th-and-1. Munday got two. On the next play, Andrew Arbaugh passed over the middle to Grant Sitterly, who got a hand on the pass but couldn’t haul it in because the defender was holding him. Officials called pass interference, giving Saline a first down at the 13.
Munday ran for four yards and then followed it up with a nine-yard touchdown run up the middle. Saline led 24-0 midway through the quarter.
The Eagles finally got on the board on the fourth play of the fourth quarter when Pipkins followed the line over the goal-line for a one-yard touchdown run. The two-point play failed on an incomplete pass.
Saline responded immediately. Max Fair’s 16-yard kickoff gave Saline the ball at the Hornet 39. Munday moved Saline over midfield with runs of 17 and 11 yards.
Arbaugh faked a hand off to Munday and then passed the other way to Hayden Scott, who scrambled to the two-yard line before he was knocked out of bounds.
Scott rushed for a two-yard touchdown, giving Saline the 31-6 lead.
Saline 2-0 4-1
Monroe 2-0 4-1
Bedford 1-1 2-3
Pioneer 1-1 3-2
Skyline 0-2 2-3
Huron 0-2 0-5
Around the SEC
Saline 31 Skyline 6
Bedford 43-Pioneer 7
Monroe 37 Huron 6
Saline @ Pioneer
Skyline @ Huron
Monroe @ Bedford
Mancino’s Pizza and Grinders 3 Stars
- Brad Wisniewski – Led the Hornets with 8.5 tackles, including a sack and two tackles for a loss. Coach Palka said Thursday you could make the case for Wisniewski being the team’s MVP. “He makes us right. When we make mistakes, he finds a way to make plays he really shouldn’t be able to make.”
- Brendan Munday – 19 carried for 97 yards and two touchdowns. He absorbed several big hits on some of those carries, but he kept on pushing forward. Hayden Scott and MJ Griffin also had big plays out of the backfield.
- JT Turner – He’s been a reliable place kicker. He went 1-for-1 on field goals and 4-for-4 on extra points. For the season he’s 6-for-6 on field goals and 17-for-18 on extra points.