Grand Ledge captures outright CAAC Blue title

Grand Ledge captures outright CAAC Blue title

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Grand Ledge captures outright CAAC Blue title

Darian Holbrook ,bottom, of East Lansing makes a shoe-string tackle to take down Cal Johnston ,9, of Grand Ledge at the 6 yard line on a huge pass reception with 18.3 seconds remaining in the 2nd quarter of their game Friday October 14, 2016 in East Lansing. KEVIN W. FOWLER PHOTO

Darian Holbrook ,bottom, of East Lansing makes a shoe-string tackle to take down Cal Johnston ,9, of Grand Ledge at the 6 yard line on a huge pass reception with 18.3 seconds remaining in the 2nd quarter of their game Friday October 14, 2016 in East Lansing. KEVIN W. FOWLER PHOTO

EAST LANSING – Cal Riggs hasn’t had to carry the ball a lot this fall.

But the junior was up for the task when the Grand Ledge football team called on him Friday.

Riggs made some big plays running the ball late while helping the Comets wrap up the outright CAAC Blue title with a 31-28 victory over East Lansing.

“(Cal) was willing to step up his role this week and expand that because we needed him a little more on the offensive side than the defensive side,” Grand Ledge coach Matt Bird said. “That tells me that (the guys) are buying into the team concept. When you have a kid that just does what he needs to do for the team – that’s Cal Riggs and that’s Grand Ledge football.”

The efforts of Riggs and his teammates led to a second straight outright Blue title for Grand Ledge, which can finish perfect in conference play with a victory over rival Holt next week.

“(This title) means a lot and it’s a lot of momentum going into next week,” said Grand Ledge junior quarterback Nolan Bird, who threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns. “That’s a big week – Holt week. Back-to-back (titles) – not many people can see they went back-to-back in the Blue conference especially.”

Grand Ledge (7-1, 6-0 CAAC Blue) got TD runs from Jacob Umholtz and Antonio Rush and Bird connected for scores with Nate LaLumia and Dominic Guzman as the Comets won their seventh straight and denied East Lansing a shot at its first conference title since 2011.

Hunter Helmic passed for 253 yards and two scores and sophomore Darian Holbrook had three touchdowns to lead East Lansing, which will need to win its regular-season finale against Okemos next week to automatically qualify for the state playoffs.

The Comets never trailed Friday, jumping out to a 14-0 lead before Helmic and the Trojans offense even took their first snap.

East Lansing (5-3, 4-2) fought its way back and generated several big plays with its passing attack in the second half. The Trojans pulled within a field goal on two occasions in the second half after touchdowns by Holbrook.

But Grand Ledge responded each time. Bird threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Nate LaLumia in the fourth quarter to extend the Comet lead back to two scores.

And when East Lansing closed within a field goal again, Riggs picked up some tough yardage on the ground to help the Comets run out the clock. He picked up a key fourth and short with just over a minute remaining that wrapped up the victory and Blue crown for Grand Ledge.

“It just feels amazing,” Riggs said. “(This was a) long time coming. This is what we came here to do. Our linemen – they came up to me and said follow me through the hole and that’s what I did. It’s just great.

“That fourth down – we only needed one (yard). We knew we could get it done.”

Contact Brian Calloway at bcalloway@lsj.com. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.

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