Novi Detroit Catholic Central coach Tom Mach let his freshman quarterback do the unthinkable Friday night at Wayne State — throw a touchdown pass in overtime to win a game.
Austin Brown hit Jack Morris with a 6-yard toss to take a 21-14 lead in overtime over Warren De La Salle, and then senior defensive back Tyler Laurentius intercepted Josh Wilk’s fourth-down pass to seal the victory.
“Going into that drive, I just trusted my coaching staff,” Brown said. “I thought (we’d) maybe do something different, but the coaching staff called a great play, and I’m proud of them for that. It’s just another game.”
Hardly. The Shamrocks and Pilots are both 6-2 overall, 3-1 in the Catholic League.
CC’s victory forced a three-way tie in the Central Division with Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and De La Salle. However, because CC didn’t win by a certain number of points, it will be OLSM and the Pilots in the Prep Bowl next week.
“If we made any more mistakes we’d be illegal in six states,” Pilots coach Paul Verska said. “We beat ourselves. We’ve done that twice this year. It was evident today. We lined up wrong on offense. We got penalties, we self-destructed offensively and gave up a couple of special-teams plays. Give them credit.”
CC’s Alex Bock had a 99-yard kickoff return and set up another score with a 74-yarder, but it was Laurentius’ play that sealed the deal.
“We saw that on film all week,” he said. “They had tried to run the play on the other side on the play before, so we knew they’d come back to it.”
The Pilots didn’t waste time scoring, getting a 1-yard TD from Allen Stritzinger with 8:11 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.
The lead didn’t last long as Bock took the kickoff 99 yards on a beautifully blocked return to tie the game at 7:54.
The game then settled into the defensive struggled that was expected.
At one point, Mach called for passing plays three consecutive times, maybe a record for the season. All were incomplete.
“We talked all week long about playing like a champion, and that’s what they did tonight, and I was real proud of them and the coaching staff,” Mach said.
A face-mask penalty on the De La Salle defense loomed large when Brown completed a 45-yard TD pass to Victor DiRita with 18.3 seconds left in the first half to give the Shamrocks a 14-7 lead.
That was the eighth pass attempt of the half for CC, resulting in two completions and one TD.
CC had a chance to lead by 10, but Cole Gingell missed a 41-yard field goal with 3:02 left in the third quarter.
Following the miss, Tru Wilson led the Pilots’ drive to tie the game. With the senior carrying the ball six times, he scored from 3 yards with 11:25 left to force the tie in regulation.