For a moment, it looked like Madison was going to come up a foot short of winning the Macomb Area Conference Silver Division title. Trailing, 42-40, and driving downfield with 2 minutes left Friday night, the Eagles gave the ball to their sure bet, Lance Mitchell, on a fourth-and-4. But he was gang-tackled just shy of first-down yardage.
But a game with so many big plays was not about to end without a couple more. Madison’s Terrance Brown came up with two, igniting the host Eagles to a wild 56-42 win.
Poised to eat up the remaining 2:02, South Lake ran the ball. But Brown wrapped up the Cavaliers’ back, forced the ball loose and fell on it. Two plays later, Mitchell was in the end zone for the go-ahead score.
“Coach was telling me we needed the ball, so I just did my job and caused the fumble,” Brown said.
South Lake — which led much of the game — had one last chance until Brown came up big again. He read the pass play and had a 39-yard pick-six with 1:29 left for the final margin.
Madison (7-1, 5-0) trailed at the half, 28-18, and besides Mitchell scoring the first touchdown on a 4-yard run, the Eagles never led until the final stretch.
“We just had to push ourselves, and we just had to keep fighting, and we just had to keep playing as a team. We came together and got this win. It was perseverance and determination,” said Mitchell, who rushed for 306 yards and scored six times, including a second-quarter hook-and-ladder that went for 43 yards.
Big plays fueled South Lake, too. After giving up the first touchdown, the Cavaliers (7-1, 4-1) came right back to equalize things with Jerodd Vines’ 90-yard kickoff return.
Three plays later, Anthony Morgan’s interception on a tipped pass gave South Lake the ball back at its 47, and Morgan finished the drive by hauling in a 32-yard pass from Datrell Milling. Morgan added the two-point conversion to make it 14-6.
Morgan wasn’t finished. His 17-yard interception return gave the Cavaliers a 21-12 lead 5 minutes before the half, and South Lake added another touchdown right before the break, when Darrell Heard won a jump-ball in the end zone on a fourth-and-10 play from the 18.
Vines also had a nifty one-handed grab for a 15-yard score, which made it 34-26 early in the fourth.
But in the end, Madison made more big plays.
“We won this because we were battle-tested; this was the third dogfight that we’ve been in this season,” coach Drake Wilkins said. “Even when our backs were against the wall we kept scratching and scratching.”