The Begining Of A Dynasty
PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) -- Tom Jakacki threw for two touchdowns, one on a fourth down to Ryan Wrobleski with 1:26 left in the game, to lead Detroit Catholic Central to a 24-21 win over Utica Eisenhower in the Division 1 state football final on Saturday.
With Utica leading 21-17 in the final minutes of the game, Jakacki drove the Shamrocks down the field and found Ryan Wrobleski in the end zone on fourth-and-2 at the two-yard line with 1:26 left in the game.
The two teams traded leads throughout, with the first quarter belonging to Detroit.
Jakacki got things rolling on the Shamrocks' first drive, tossing a 19-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Rogowski at 6:57 of the first quarter. The key play on the drive was Jakacki's 39-yard completion to Wrobleski.
On their third possession, Jakacki found Rogowski for a 47-yard gain, giving the Shamrocks a first down at the Eagles' 12-yard line.
Mike Banaszak ran for a nine-yard touchdown and the Shamrocks led 14-0.
The second quarter belonged to the Eagles.
Utica Eisenhower quarterback Joe DiGiorgio found Lance Long wide open for a 56-yard touchdown at 9:44.
The DiGiorgio-Long connection was working again later in the quarter when the two hooked up for a 33-yard score, tying the game at 14-14.
In the third quarter, DiGiorgio threw a pass that Landon Langham intercepted and returned 24 yards to the Eagles' 11-yard line.
Jason Gingell kicked a 21-yard field goal that gave the Shamrocks a 17-14 advantage.
Before the end of the third, Utica Eisenhower defensive end Rob Sarah stripped Jakacki of the ball and recovered it at the Shamrocks' 17-yard line.
DiGiorgio found Long again for a 13-yard touchdown pass and the Eagles led 21-17 with 11:54 to play.
It is the Shamrocks' (11-3) seventh state title in team history. Utica Eisenhower (12-2) has never won a state championship.
The winning touchdown could have easily gone the other way for the Shamrocks.
The Eagles had stopped them three straight times on running plays inside the five, until Catholic Central realized they would have to pass to win it.
"They stuffed us three runs in a row," Jakacki said. "Ryan just made the best catch and it made our season."
When the ball was up, DiGiorgio and Brian Phillips were both back in coverage and Phillips tipped the ball.
"I thought if I got my hands on it, I would catch it," Wrobleski said.
"Your heart stops, you hold your breath and you hope for the best," Jakacki said. "It turned out great."
The Eagles have experienced this kind of heartbreak before -- this is the third straight season they have fallen just short in the title game.
The Shamrocks were not without sympathy and respect for their competitors.
"We've been there before," Jakacki said. "It's heartbreaking. You work so hard all season. I give all those guys credit. Joe's a great player. He's amazing. It's tough but somebody's got to win.
Shamrocks head coach Tom Mach said DiGiorgio is one of the "best quarterbacks I've ever seen. We had a hard time stopping him."
Wrobleski, a senior, said he couldn't have come up with a better ending.
"Words can't describe it," Wrobleski said. "I never thought in a million years that this is the way my season would end. I always felt we'd win it but to win it, scoring the winning touchdown on fourth-and-goal with a minute to go, it's the best feeling in the world."
RESPECT ALL, FEAR NONE
THE DETROIT CATHOLIC CENTRAL SHAMROCKS