Most likely, another Saline Hornet football season is in the books.
Saline withstood a late scare from a quick and combative Ypsilanti team to win 24-13 improve to 7-1 on the season. Unless something changes between now and Tuesday, it was the last game of the regular season for the Hornets.
Junior Brendan Munday rushed 24 times for 113 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Saline attack. Senior Vinnie Patteri kicked a field goal, two extra points and had three touchbacks -- keeping the ball out of the hands of dangerous Ypsilanti runners.
Saline led 24-0 before Ypsilanti scored on two late drives – both set up by Saline fumbles.
Ypsilanti’s fourth quarter touchdowns took a little luster off Saline’s win, but coach Joe Palka was proud of the way his team played.
“We were a little sloppy, which leaves a bad taste in your mouth at the end, but the reality is I told the kids I’m proud of them. Wins are hard to come by. They’re a fast physical team. We did a lot of good things. We just stalled out at the end and don’t have as good a feeling as we hoped for,” Palka said.
Saline will spend the next two weeks practicing – and scouting potential first-round playoff match ups. Palka said it was unlikely the Hornets will line up a contestant in week nine.
Like they did against Pioneer, the Hornets charged out of the gate. On the first play from scrimmage, Lineman Trevor Garbo hit the ball carrier behind scrimmage and knocked the ball loose. Linebacker won the battle for the loose ball at the Saline 14.
Brendan Munday ran three times for a first down and then capped the short drive with a three-yard touchdown run. Patteri’s kick made it 7-0 just 1:42 into the contest.
Saline’s was just as tough on the next drive. Garbo (3 tackles, one tackle for a loss, one forced fumble) made the stop on first down. On second down, Alex Morrison provided coverage on an incomplete pass. On third down, the Hornets had QB Garvin Crout on the run. Finally, Kingsley Amadi (2 tackles, one sack, one tackle for a loss) dragged him down on the Saline sideline for an eight-yard loss. Ypsilanti punted. It didn’t go far.
The Hornets took over at the Ypsilanti 44. Cole Daniels (11-for-20, 135 yards) started the drive with an eight-yard pass to Brendan Murphy. Daniels moved the chains with a keeper. A 24-yard touchdown run by Munday was wiped out by a holding penalty. The drive stalled at the Ypsilanti 30.
The Grizzlies put together a decent drive on their next possession, pushing as far as the Saline 28. On 2nd-and-8 from the Saline 28 Garbo came up big again, stopping Emerson Wilson for a two-yard loss. A 3rd down pass fell incomplete. On fourth down, Allen slipped out of one tackle but he was stopped three yards short of the marker by linebacker Brad Armstrong.
Saline began its next drive at its 24 with 1:03 to play in the quarter. Two runs by Munday moved the chains out to the 36. Daniels followed with a strong run for nine yards. Munday ran for a couple of yards for a first down just before the end of the quarter. Daniels kept the drive moving in the second quarter with a 15-yard pass to Munday. Then he found Emmett Turner (6 catches, 68 yards) for an 11-yard pick-up. On the next play, a 27-yard touchdown pass to Brendan Murphy was called back on a penalty. Passes to Patteri and Turner gave Saline a first down at the Ypsilanti 11. Daniels picked up nine of those yards with a tough run through traffic.
Munday capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown run. After Patteri’s kick, Saline led 14-0.
Ypsilanti’s drive began at the 35. Allen and Wilson rushed the ball out to midfield, but the drive stopped there. MJ Griffin broke up a pass on first down. Grant Armstrong stopped Wilson for a three-yard gain on second. On third down, the Hornet defense dripped Allen for a three-yard loss. Ypsilanti punted from the Saline 49 and it rolled down to the Saline four.
The Hornets began the drive with 3:40 remaining in the half. Munday ran twice for 26 yards to push Saline out to the 30. Then Daniels passed to Turner for a 15 yard gain. A personal foul moved Saline to the Ypsilanti 38. Daniels was sacked on first down and gained a yard on second. He kept the drive alive with a 10-yard pass to Turner and an eight-yard pass to Andrew Diuble, giving Saline a first down at the Ypsilanti 26. Munday pushed Saline 11 yards closer with another rush. A false start penalty threw a kink into the drive.
On 4th-and-12 from the 17, Patteri kicked a 34-yard field goal.
Saline led 17-0, but news wasn’t all good.
In the second quarter, on the same play, senior defensive linemen Kingsley Amadi and Danny Weidmayer were hurt. Amadi was held out the rest of the game as a precaution, but Weidmayer’s injury appeared more serious.
Saline opened the third quarter with possession. The Hornets bulldozed 64 yards on 14 play, grueling touchdown drive. Monday, running behind Dimitri Douglas and the big offensive line, ran eight times for 32 yards on the drive. Ypsilanti put up a valiant fight. Saline had a first down at the Ypsilanti nine. Hayden Scott ran for seven yards. On second down, Munday pushed forward for a yard. On third down, Munday was stopped for no gain. Finally on fourth down, Munday found daylight and scored. JT Turner’s kick made it 24-0.
The drive took nearly seven minutes off the clock.
In the fourth quarter, Ypsilanti forced Saline to punt. The Saline defense forced a three-and-out to get the ball right back, with Connor Payne, Connor Terech and Ethan Collick making the stops.
Saline’s next drive ended when Daniels was sacked and he lost the football at the Ypsilanti 49. On second down, Garving Crout passed to Jalen Allen for a pretty 52-yard touchdown pass. Ypsilanti chose to go for the extra-point kick, which was good. Saline led 24-7.
Saline fumbled the ball away again on the next possession and Ypsilanti took over at the Saline 42.
On first down, Wilson ran for 21 yards. After three incomplete passes, including an end zone try broken up by Griffin, Crout rushed for another first down. Two plays later Crout scored on an eight-yard touchdown. This time, Ypsilanti’s kick was blocked Garbo. Saline led 24-13.
The Hornet offense went three-and-out, giving Ypsilanti the ball one more time. But Patteri’s punt locked Ypsilanti down at their six. Saline closed out the win.
Watching more seniors go down with injuries wasn’t easy. But the Hornets have a saying.
“It’s the mantra of the team. ‘Next man up.’ But you hate to see it happen,” said Palka, who’s never seen a string of injuries like this before since taking over as head coach at Saline. “We’re really overcoming a lot of adversity. Just all the injuries – and then Danny Weidmayer, who’s been playing lights out, we lose him. We already lost CJ. So more kids had to play their tails off for us to get it done tonight.”
Friday was senior night at Hornet Stadium. We talked to Trevor Garbo, Emmett Turner and Dimitri Douglas about senior night, potentially playing their last game at Hornet Stadium, and what comes next this season.
Here are the Mancino’s Pizza & Grinders 3 Stars
- Brendan Munday – Gained more than half of Saline’s yards and scored three touchdowns. There were a lot of tough yards Friday, and Munday probably has the bruises to prove it.
- Ethan Collick – With defensive leader CJ Gildersleeve out, Collick had huge shoes to fill. He did a great job. Especially as more Hornets were injured and more inexperienced Hornets entered the game. He used his good speed to chase down a few Grizzlies who looked like they might get away.
- Trevor Garbo – Started the Hornets off on the right foot by knocking the football loose. And when Weidmayer and Amadi left with injuries, Garbo became the lone senior starter left on the line. He had a strong game. It should be noted that Amadi was having his best of the year before he was hurt.