The 11-0 Shamrocks of St. Patrick School hosted the 9-2 Panthers of Climax-Scotts on Saturday afternoon in an MHSAA 8-Player Division 2 State semi-finals game. The teams were competing for a chance to face Pickford at the Superior Dome in Marquette. Pickford secured their spot in championship game by defeating Hillman 40-8 on Friday night.
After receiving the opening kickoff, the Shamrocks would start on the Panther 47 and quickly went to work. On the very first offensive play, Shamrock senior running back Ned Smith broke free for a 47-yard touchdown run. The Panthers were able to stop the two-point conversion attempt but the Shamrocks jumped out to an early 6-0 lead.
After the Shamrock kickoff, the Panthers would start on their own 28. The much larger Panther front line was able to grind on the smaller Shamrock defense and moved the ball well into Shamrock territory. With fourth and goal on the Shamrock three, the Shamrock defense put up a huge stop when senior linebacker Zach Spitzley stopped the Panther ball carrier inside the one, and the Shamrocks would take over on downs.
The Shamrock offense would quickly strike again on the first play from scrimmage when junior QB Conner Cross connected with Spitzley for a 99-yard touchdown pass. Cross would then connect with Spitzley again on the two-point conversion and the Shamrocks would go ahead 14-0 with 4:24 remaining in the first.
The Panthers started their next possession on their own 20, but would turn over on downs at their own 34.
Just a few plays later, Cross would run it in himself from two yards out. Cross connected with sophomore Derec Fedewa for the two-point conversion and the Shamrocks extended their lead to 22-0 with only 32 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Panthers would start their next possession on their own 43 and were able to move into Shamrock territory, but the St, Patrick defense would force another turnover on downs at the Shamrock 45.
The Shamrock offense quickly marched the ball down to the Panther five where Cross kept it again to get into the endzone. Cross would connect with Smith for the two-point conversion and the lead would move to 30-0.
Climax-Scotts would start deep in their own territory and would be forced into a 4th and eight on their own 26. The Panthers attempted a quick kick but the ball struck the back of one of their own linemen. The Shamrocks would start their possession with excellent field position at the Panther 24 with 5:28 remaining in the second quarter.
Just a few plays later Cross would connect with Fedewa for a 15-yard TD pass. Senior Jeff Davlin’s PAT was good and the Shamrocks extended their lead to 37-0 with 4:00 left in the quarter.
The Panther offense would go to work on their own 23. Senior running back Conner Gibson would break free for the Panthers single longest run of the game before he was pushed out at the Shamrock three-yard line. Two plays later the Panthers would get their only points of the game when junior running back Ernesto Escobedo ran it into the endzone from one yard out. The Shamrock defense would stop the Panther two-point run attempt and with only 1:24 remaining in the first half, the score would sit at 37-6.
A short kick by the Panthers would allow the Shamrocks to start at the Climax-Scotts 49. The Shamrocks were able to move the ball to within 10 yards of the goal line, but were not able to score before the intermission. At halftime, the score would remain 37-6.
In their first possession of the second half, the Panthers would again turn the ball over on downs, this time at the Panther 26.
The St. Patrick offense would again march quickly down the field. Cross capped off the drive with a five-yard touchdown run. Davin’s PAT was no good and the Shamrocks would lead 43-6 with 7:42 remaining in the third.
The Panther offense started to gain a bit of momentum in their ensuing possession, but that was ended when Shane Cook intercepted the Panther pass. Cook was able to run the ball back to near mid-field before being stopped.
For the first time of the contest, the Panthers were able to force the Shamrocks to punt.
The remainder of the third quarter and the fourth quarter would move quickly under the MHSAA running clock rule due to the score differential.
The Shamrocks final points of the game would come when Fedewa would break free for a 30-yard touchdown run. The Shamrock two-point conversion attempt was stopped and the score would sit at 49-6.
The Panthers last chance at scoring came to an end when Shamrock senior Riley Kissane intercepted a Climax-Scotts pass near mid-field.
The Shamrocks would take a knee to run the clock out and secure a 49-6 victory.
Scoring by quarter:
1st - 2nd - 3rd - 4th - Final
SPS 22 - 15 - 6 - 6 - 49
CS 0 - 6 - 0 - 0 - 6
Cross would finish two for three passing for 114 yards. Smith would lead Shamrock rushers with 114 yards and one TD on seven carries. Senior John Schneider would have 61 yards on five carries. Riley and Alex Kissane would lead the Shamrocks defensively with six tackles each. Spitzley, junior Brian Kwiecinski, junior Jacobe Hayes-Dunning and senior Tyler Coyne each had three tackles.
The Shamrocks are now 12-0 on the season and will travel to the Superior Dome (also known as the Yooper Dome) in Marquette for the MHSAA 8-Player Division 2 State Championship Game.
The Shamrocks will face the 11-1 Panthers of Pickford. Pickford’s one and only loss of the season was a 20-14 loss to Powers North Central in week three. Pickford would defeat Powers North Central in a rematch in the regional championship 22-14.
The St. Patrick vs. Pickford game will kick off at 2:00 PM on Saturday, November 23rd. If you are planning on making the trek to Marquette, admission is $10 per person, and is good for two games. This includes the 11:00 AM 8-Player D1 championship between Suttons Bay and Colon, as well as the 2:00 PM game between St. Patrick and Pickford. According to the MHSAA website, the 8-Player Finals will be televised live on FOXSportsDetroit.com and FOX Sports GO.
For more photos of the Shamrock game against Climax-Scotts, please check out the photo album on The Portland Beacon Facebook page.