Birmingham Groves’ lead over 13-time state champion Farmington Hills Harrison was 3-0 when Groves got the ball on its 3-yard line with 5:24 left.
Junior quarter Beau Kewley had a message for his teammates: “Let’s get a drive going — let’s make some plays.’’
On second down, Kewley lofted a pass for Nick Moore, who hauled it in for a 34-yard gain. Three plays later, Kewley threw another pass in Moore’s direction, and this time it worked for 32 yards.
“We were just making big plays,’’ Kewley said. “I knew Nick Moore is good in man-to-man, and I let him make a play on them.’’
With 2:22 left, Groves was in a fourth-and-4 from the Harrison 9, and no one wearing a Groves uniform wanted to attempt a field goal.
“Just stick a dagger in the heart,’’ Kewley thought, “and finish them.’’
Kewley took the snap from center, and it seemed like everyone in the stands saw Kewley hand the ball to CJ Boswell, running right.
“You want to sell the fake,’’ Kewley said. “Let them think he’s got the ball and then … ”
Kewley seemed to hold the fake for about a day-and-a-half before he straightened up and turned to the left, spotting a wide-open Dan Williams.
“I saw him turn around, and he was giving me his big eyes,’’ Kewley said, laughing. “He just had his hand up. I just threw it.’’
And Williams just caught it, giving Groves a 10-0 victory Friday night in a Division 2 district semifinal at Groves.
It was the sixth shutout for the Groves’ defense and allowed this Falcon team to become the first team in school history to win 10 games in a season.
“In about 2003, I asked Coach (John) Herrington what his secret is,’’ Groves coach Brendan Flaherty. “He said you’ve got to beat somebody you’re not expected to. You’ve got to get some momentum, beat somebody and keep it going.’’
That is a game few people outside of the Groves locker room thought the Falcons were supposed to win. Harrison (7-3) plays in the OAA White, which is tougher than the OAA Blue, which Groves won.
But on this night Groves clearly was the better team.
“They were very active, and whenever we made a halfway decent play it seemed like we had a penalty,’’ Herrington said. “We just couldn’t get anything going, no continuity, and then we messed up some of our position changes.’’
No one scored until junior Christian Sosa kicked a 34-yard field goal with 11:38 left. But even that was tough because Groves was penalized 5 yards twice before Sosa got to kick the ball.
“The first time, I’m all right, the second time …,’’ Sosa said, rolling his eyes. “During practice we work on special teams more than any other team we’ll see. It pays off.’’
Practicing the bootleg pass that worked for a touchdown also paid off.
“We don’t run that play much, but we run it every week in practice, though,’’ Kewley said. “We had it in our back pocket for when we needed it.’’
Groves moves on to next week’s district final at No. 2 Walled Lake Western.
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.