By Steve Gunn, Dave Hart and Andrew Johnson

DETROIT – Leading a game-clinching drive in a state championship game is a tough enough assignment for an experienced starting quarterback.

For a backup QB who is only taking snaps because the starter is hurt, it’s a boatload of pressure.

But Mona Shores junior Brady Rose showed once again that he is no ordinary backup, and no ordinary athlete.

His Sailors jumped out to an early 14-point lead on Friday, but Detroit Martin Luther King kept striking back, and scored a touchdown with 10:45 left in the game to pull within two points.

What Mona Shores needed was a long drive to kill off the clock, and some final points to kill off the Crusaders. Rose and his offensive teammates delivered.

Brady Rose picks up a Sailor first down. Photo/Eric Sturr

They took over the ball at their own 27-yard, drove steadily downfield, and shredded 8:40 off the clock.

Then Rose found the end zone on a two-yard run with only 1:57 remaining, giving Mona Shores a stunning 35-26 victory over favored Detroit King in the Division 2 state championship game at Detroit’s Ford Field.

It was the first state football championship in school history for Mona Shores, and avenged last year’s loss in the finals to Warren De La Salle.

“What can I say about these guys, they are a special group,” said Mona Shores head coach Matt Koziak, whose team rallied to win in the regional finals and state semifinals, but never trailed on Friday. “People go back to our whopping against Muskegon (a 53-0 loss), and it may sound crazy, but I think that was one of the best things to happen to us. That loss humbled us and made us dig a little deeper. We played great teams in the playoffs, and this team confused to quit.”

It was the second week in a row that Rose, who normally starts at slot receiver but was playing in place of injured quarterback Caden Broersma, led the Sailors to a huge victory under intense pressure.

In last week’s incredible 57-56 win over Walled Lake Western, Rose led the Sailors on a game-clinching  65-yard drive. He scored the touchdown that brought them within one point with 17 seconds remaining, then ran in the winning two-point conversion.

He rushed for 205 yards and scored five touchdowns in that game.

Mona Shores senior Kolbe Trovinger fights for extra yards after making a first down for the Sailors. Photo/Eric Sturr

His statistics weren’t quite as impressive on Friday, but the results were even bigger. He rushed 21 times for 90 yards and scored three touchdowns. He completed 8 of 11 passes for 122 yards and another touchdown.

Rose made a key interception on defense late in the third quarter, which led directly to a crucial Mona Shores touchdown. He also led the defense with 10 tackles.

But his very best work came on the Sailors’ last drive of the game.

Detroit King scored on a 66-yard touchdown run by Peny Boone with 10:45 remaining. Luckily for the Sailors, the two-point conversion pass was incomplete, and Mona Shores was left clinging to a 28-26 lead.

The Sailors got the ball back at their own 27, and needed to remain calm and move the chains, to keep the explosive Crusaders from getting the ball back.

An eight-yard run by Tre Hatcher on third-and-3 gave the Sailors an important first down at their own 35. A four-yard run by Rose on third-and-3 at the 50 moved the ball into Detroit King territory.

A pass interference call on Detroit King on the next play gave the Sailors the ball at the Crusader 31, and they advanced to the 12, where they faced fourth-and-one with 3:42 remaining.

Tre’shawn Hatcher breaks through for the Sailors’ 2nd touchdown of the game. Photo/Eric Sturr

Hatcher got the first down with a three-yard run to the Detroit King 9. Then Rose ran seven yards to the 2, before plowing in for the game-clinching score on the next play.

“Coach has confidence in me as his backup quarterback,” Rose said. “He told me to just do it the same as Caden would have. We just chipped away on the drive by getting first down after first down, and took the clock away.”

Despite his 5-7, 150-pound frame, Rose kept coming up with huge plays under intense pressure, and his performance is a big reason why the Sailors have their first state championship trophy.

“Our offense never changed when we had to insert Brady in the lineup,” Koziak said. “Brady has one of the best football IQs I have ever coached. He knows where to be, and he is so cool and calm. He is just a special kid who doesn’t get too high on his highs or low on his lows.”

Detroit King Coach Ty Spencer was equally impressed.

“He was what I thought he was,” Spencer said. “We knew he’d be difficult to deal with running the outside and inside veer. He did a great job. He looked like an athlete, and a darn good athlete, that just helped his team win a state championship.”

The Sailors made a strong statement on the opening drive of the game, taking the ball 64 yards on 13 plays to grab a quick 7-0 lead.

Key plays on the drive included an 11-yard run by Kolbe Trovinger, along with 14- and 11-yard receptions by Jaylen Hopson. Rose finished off the drive with a one-yard run with 6:17 left in the first quarter, and Keegan DeKuiper added the extra point.

Brad Rose hits Jaylen Hopson with the wide receive screen pass. Photo/Eric Sturr

King drove to the Mona Shores 24 on its opening possession, but the effort stalled on downs when Mona Shores’ Cam Sobish sacked Crusader quarterback Dante Moore for a 10-yard loss.

Mona Shores struck again on its second drive, covering 67 yards on only seven plays. Hopson covered a big chunk of that with a 27-yard catch, Hatcher added a nine-yard run, then broke loose for an 18-yard TD scamper with 10:07 left in the second quarter.

DeKuiper added his second extra point, and the Sailors led 14-0.

King got on the scoreboard 3:49 later, on a 42-yard touchdown pass from Moore to Justin Whyte. The extra point failed, leaving the score 14-6 in favor of Mona Shores.

The Sailors answered with a nine-play, 67-yard drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Rose and another PAT by DeKuiper, putting Mona Shores up 21-6. The drive was aided by a 13-reception by Gary Humphrey, an 11-yard run by Hatcher and an 18-yard scamper by Rose.

Detroit King struck back quickly, traveling 89 yards in eight plays, and scored on a one-yard touchdown run by Peny Boone just 25 seconds before halftime.

Coach Matt Koziak stands with his players, including No. 22 Brady Rose, before being awarded the state championship trophy. Photo/Eric Sturr

The Sailors led 21-12 at the break.

King again showed off its quick-strike ability on the opening drive of the second half, going 73 yards on six plays, leading to a nine-yard scoring run by Boone with 9:42 left in the third. The two-point conversion pass was good, and the Sailors were left clinging to a 21-20 lead.

Mona Shores drove to the King 14 on its next possession, before turning the ball over on downs.

King then moved the ball 35 yards on seven plays, to the 50-yard line, before Rose picked off a pass at the Mona Shores 45 and returned the ball five yards.

The Sailors then traveled 50 yards on seven plays, scoring on a 17-yard pass from Rose to Hopson on fourth down, with 16 seconds left in the third quarter. DeKuiper’s fourth extra point made the score 28-20.

“I was just running my route and I just caught it,” Hopson said about his TD catch. “This championship means a lot because I lost my dad, so I had a lot to play for and I wanted to give 100 percent.”

Just three plays later, Boone broke loose for a 66-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion pass was incomplete, leaving Mona Shores up 28-26 with 10:45 left in the fourth.

That’s when Rose, Hatcher and the rest of the Sailor offense executed their game-clinching touchdown drive to perfection.

Detroit King got the ball back as the clock ran down, but Trovinger intercepted a pass at the Sailor 37 with about 40 seconds left, ending all doubt.

Mona Shores outrushed King 208-197. The Crusaders had a 209-122 advantage in passing and a 406-330 edge in total yardage, but the numbers on the scoreboard were all that mattered, and they favored the Sailors.

“I told them after the last game I would never bet against them in anything, including in life,” Koziak said about his players. “We lose our All-State quarterback, who played in this game last year, and a backup quarterback comes in and leads us to our first state championship ever. These guys believed in what we were doing and they believed in each other.”

Hatcher finished with 95 yards on eight carries with one touchdown. Hopson had a great game, catching five passes for 103 yards and a touchdown.

Trovinger and Karsen Marihugh each had seven tackles for the Sailors while Sobish and Humphrey added five apiece.

Boone led all rushers with 198 yards on 21 carries. Moore completed 15 of 22 passes for 209 yards and one touchdown.