When Nick Capatina made a game-saving tackle, all his Novi Detroit Catholic Central teammates could do was laugh.
That’s because Capatina purposefully brought down his teammate, Jack Morris, after Morris came up with the ball on Orchard Lake St. Mary’s desperation hook-and-ladder pass.
“They had a good play set up and Jack made a great pick,” Capatina said. “He could have taken it to the house, but in case they would have stripped that ball, I tackled him and I wanted to make sure we finished the game well as a team.”
The unusual tackle stopped the clock and preserved a 17-14 victory in the Catholic League’s Prep Bowl A/B Division championship at Ford Field. And there was probably no one more confounded about it at the time than Morris.
“At first I was like, run, obviously, but then I saw everyone saying, ‘Go down,’ and then somebody tackled me from behind,” he said. “I thought it was their guy, but then everyone started laughing and they told me my own guy tackled me.”
Moments earlier, though, it was no laughing matter for the Shamrocks, as their undefeated season and a Prep Bowl championship was on the line. With 2:45 to play, Catholic Central got the ball back at their own 20 after a punt. Sophomore quarterback Austin Brown completed six of seven passes on the drive and Capatina helped out by rushing for a first down on fourth-and-1 with 32 seconds left.
With first down on the Eaglet 12 and 21 seconds to play, Brown found Chris Jakubik open at the goal line for the winning score.
“They had a great drive; their quarterback did an excellent job,” St. Mary’s coach George Porritt said. “We were giving them a little bit (of room) there, but you’ve got to give them credit because that’s a great football team. They just got us.”
The Eaglets (5-4) struck early and didn’t have to travel very far to do so. After pinning Catholic Central deep on the opening kickoff and forcing the Shamrocks into a three-and-out. Shermond Dabney took the punt back to the 5-yard line, and Kyren Cunningham punched it in four plays later for an early 7-0 lead.
But Catholic Central got a 30-yard field goal from Jacob Nichols on its next possession, and took a 10-7 lead 19 seconds before halftime, when Matt Young powered into the end zone from the 2.
St. Mary’s grabbed the lead back with 8:18 to play in the final quarter, as Caden Prieskorn connected with Caleb Edmond on a 54-yard score. Edmond caught a deep pass, broke a tackle and took it up the left sideline into the end zone.