RICHMOND The action was fast and furious.
Big hits, determined runs and timely plays marked the Blue Water Area Conference showdown between Algonac and Richmond.
With the BWAC championship on the line, the teams battled for every inch on the field and at the end of the day it was the opportune Richmond defense that made the difference.
Richmond didn’t allow a single second half point while forcing a late turnover that proved to be key in pulling out a 15-14 victory to clinch a share of the BWAC championship.
Algonac (6-1, 7-1) will end the regular season next week against Brown City while Richmond (6-1, 7-1) will face Macomb Lutheran North.
Richmond got off to a fast start out of the gates. On the first drive of the game, Chase Churchill connected with Anthony Tavano on a 54-yard pass but the drive stalled when Churchill was picked off in the end zone by Owen Kaatz. All was not lost, however, as Richmond forced a fumble on Algonac’s first play from scrimmage.
Zachary Roberts recovered and Richmond took back over on the Muskrats 14-yard-line. A few plays later, Churchill kept the ball on the ground for a one-yard quarterback sneak and Richmond led 6-0. Richmond then caught Algonac by surprise on a fake point after attempt and Tavano found D’Sean Hamilton on the conversion pass to give Richmond an 8-0 lead.
It appeared momentum was building for Richmond as Algonac quarterback AJ Garshott went down with an apparent ankle injury on the next Algonac drive. The Muskrats offense began to stall deep in Richmond territory and the Richmond defense capitalized to force a turnover on downs.
But the Muskrats defense continued to play well and Richmond settled for an 8-0 lead entering the second quarter.
With his team struggling, Garshott came back into the game. Although hobbled, he made a big difference by leading Algonac on an impressive 17-play, eight minute drive that resulted in an 8-yard rushing score from Shane Asselin to pull Algonac within 8-6 after a failed point after attempt.
The tide really appeared to turn Algonac’s way as Richmond fumbled the kick and the Muskrats recovered on the Richmond 27-yard-line.
Algonac went right back to work and Asselin scored his second touchdown of the game, this time on a four-yard run. The successful conversion pass from Garshott to Nick Folkers gave Algonac a 14-8 lead with 1:15 left in the first half.
But the lead would be short-lived. On the ensuing kick, D’Sean Hamilton scampered 92 yards for a touchdown to give Richmond the lead back at 15-14 and that is where it would remain entering halftime.
The teams came out in the second half and traded interceptions, but Algonac eventually gained control of the battle of field position, starting back-to-back drives within Richmond territory.
Richmond’s defense held firm and the teams entered the fourth quarter with Richmond still leading 15-14. In the fourth quarter, Algonac went on an 8-play drive all the way down to the Richmond 31. But Garshott fumbled on a quarterback sneak with just under five minutes to play.
Richmond took control of the ball once again and never gave it back. Richmond kept the ball on the ground for a 12-play drive that ended with them taking a knee amidst wild celebration.
Contact Joseph Hayes at (810) 989-6268 or at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @jhayes1136.