Oakridge overcame a 7-0 deficit at halftime with 18 unanswered points to defeat Tri County 18-7 in Friday's Division 5 district title game at Muskegon. While Oakridge advances to the regionals next week, Tri County's season ends at 9-2.
"We're very disappointed," said Tri County sophomore quarterback Josh Rouhan, whose 8-yard touchdown pass to Serjey Ficeli late in the first quarter gave his team a 7-0 lead. "We came out flat in the second half. You can't do that against a team like this."
Oakridge remained among the 11-0 teams in the state that advance to the third-round next weekend in the five-week playoffs which end Nov. 28-20 at the Pontiac Silverdome.
Oakridge, which had operated mostly out of the shot gun in the first half, focused more on the running game in the second half and it paid off on the second play of the third quarter when Bryan Turner bolted through for a 46-yard touchdown run. The Eagles missed the kick, which preserved TC's one-point lead. But on Tri County's next possession, Oakridge blocked a Josh Inman punt attempt and recovered at the Viking 29. One play later, Turner stormed up the middle for the touchdown. The run for points failed, but Oakridge was up for good, 12-7.
"At halftime, we reminded them to play the way we normally do," said Oakridge coach Jack Schugars. "We ran the ball and got some big holes. That's what we wanted to do."
The third time Oakridge got the ball in the quarter, the Eagles scored again, this time on Turner's 9-yard run, for an 11-point lead. The try for points failed again.
The Viking running attack was stymied most of the night but Rouhan tried to get his team back with the passing game. Tri County moved the ball deep in Oakridge territory as the third quarter ended but the Vikings ran out of downs. A pass interference call against Oakridge gave Tri County the ball deep in Eagle territory, but Oakridge intercepted a Rouhan pass. Moments later, Mike Losinger recovered a fumble for Tri County at the Oakridge 35. But Oakridge's Andy Fazakerley intercepted another Rouhan pass to seal Tri County's loss.
"Oakridge did a good job on special teams, including that blocked punt against us," said Tri County coach Joe Williams. "We came out fired up tonight. Our team attacked them right away. I'm sure Coach Schugars had a talk with his team at halftime."
Tri County's defense was able to shut down Oakridge the first two quarters and Rouhan directed his team 58 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, connecting with Ficeli on a pass in the corner of the end zone. James Baker kicked the extra point. Oakridge had a touchdown called back on a holding penalty and Tri County's Joe Miles stopped another Eagle drive with an interception near the goal line.
"The first half was just one of those things," Schugars said. "Tri County played great defense on us. They're a fine team."
Another "fine team," Allen Park, defeated Carleton Airport 12-10 in a battle of 10-0 teams.