By Andrew Johnson
OKEMOS – The Mona Shores football team has been resilient all season, and on Saturday the Sailors showed the world just how determined they were to get back to the Division 2 state championship game for the second year in a row.
But the Sailors dug deep and got the job done, thanks in large part to Brady Rose, the backup quarterback who stepped in when starter Caden Broersma went down with an injury.
Rose scored his team’s final touchdown with 17 seconds remaining, then ran in the two-point conversion, giving Mona Shores a mind-blowing 57-56 victory at Okemos High School.
The Sailors will now face Detroit Martin Luther King next Friday at 1 p.m. in the Division 2 state title game at Ford Field in Detroit. The Sailors will try to avenge a loss to Warren DeLaSalle in last year’s finals.
Rose led Mona Shores with 205 yards and five touchdowns on 23 carries. He also had 105 yards on 4-of-5 passing. It was the third time this season he had to step in under center for Broersma, who started the season on the injured list.
“He’s now 3-0 as the quarterback,” said Mona Shores Coach Matt Koziak. “He’s just a great player and he’s got ice in his veins.”
The Sailors started their final possession at their own 35-yard line, with one more chance to win the touchdown-fest and keep their season alive.
Rose dropped back on the first play of the drive and found Keondre Pierce for a 45-yard connection.
After a chop block penalty and three running plays, the Sailors faced fourth-and-nine from the Warrior 19.
Rose took the fourth-down snap, looked to his left and found senior Kolbe Trovinger for an 18-yard completion that gave Mona Shores first and goal from the one.
The Warrior defense kept the Sailors out of the end zone on the first two plays, but Rose punched in a two-yard run on third down to make the score 56-55 with just 17 seconds left.
After the teams traded time outs, Koziak sent his offense back on the field for a high-risk two-point conversion attempt.
“l asked the kids what do you want to do,” Koziak said about the decision to go for two. “It was unanimous to go for two. I said to them, regardless of what happens here, you kids are incredible and I love you guys.”
Rose took the two-point snap and rolled right before cutting and diving into the end zone to give Mona Shores its slight margin of victory.
“I looked around,” said Rose about what he saw on the game-winning play. “Tre’shawn (Hatcher) was the initial dump pass and was covered. Then second was the drag route and coach (Aaron) James always says it’s a run-pass option, and the hole was there so I took it.”
Walled Lake Western started the final possession of the game at its own 37 with a chance to get a field goal to win.
But Mona Shores senior Logan Hekkema had different ideas, tracking down Warrior quarterback Zach Trainor and sacking him for an eight-yard loss.
After the final Walled Lake Western timeout, Trainor competed a pass to Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen for a modest gain. Then the Warriors pitched the ball backward and ultimately fumbled as time expired and Mona Shores walked off victorious.
“What an unbelievable football team,” said Koziak about Walled Lake Western. “I don’t know how many total yards, but it was 113 total points. It was two great football teams with great kids and coaches.”
The game was an offensive shootout from the first snap, with the Warriors scoring only three plays and one minute into the action, taking a 7-0 lead on a Trainor pass to Momodou Elebra.
On its first possession, Mona Shores moved the ball into the red zone before starting quarterback Caden Broersma was forced to leave the game with a back injury.
Rose stepped into the quarterback role and used a defensive penalty to pick up a first down on fourth down. Just three plays later, Hatcher punched in a five-yard run to tie the game at 7-7 with 2:59 left in the first.
With just six seconds left in the opening quarter, Trainor once again found Elebra for a touchdown pass, this time from 10 yards out, making the score 14-7 in favor of the Warriors.
On the opening possession of the second quarter, Hatcher broke loose for a 30-yard touchdown run, tying the game back up at 14-14.
The Sailors took the lead on their next possession when Hatcher punched in a one-yard touchdown, making the score 21-14.
Following a Pierce interception, the Sailors extended their lead to 28-14 with 5:37 left in the half on a three-yard touchdown run by Rose.
Walled Lake Western made the score 28-20 on the very next play when CJ Brown returned the kickoff for a touchdown.
With 3:45 left in the half, Rose scored his second touchdown of the game when he outran the Warrior defense for 41 yards to the end zone, extending the Shores lead to 35-20.
The final touchdown of the half came on a 19-yard pass from Trainor to Samuel Ahern, cutting the Sailor lead to 35-28 after a successful two-point conversion by Trainor.
Mona Shores fumbled to open the third quarter, and the Warriors tied the game at 35-35 on a Brown one-yard run.
But the Sailors showed their resilience once again, responding with a 47-yard touchdown run by Rose on their next possession to regain the lead at 42-35.
Facing fourth down on the ensuing possession, Trainor found Jonathan Abele for a 21-yard touchdown strike, tying the game again at 42-42, which was the score at the end of the third quarter.
Walled Lake Western took a 48-42 lead with 10:54 left in the fourth on a 23-yard pass from Trainor to Ahern. Rose blocked the extra point attempt, keeping the Warrior lead at six.
The Sailors took their next possession 62 yards and finished with a six-yard rushing touchdown by Rose, leaving them on top 49-48.
The Warriors scored their final touchdown of the game when Brown scooted to the end zone on an 18-yard run. Brown then caught a successful two-point conversion pass from Trainor, making the Warrior lead 56-49 with 3:51 left.
Over the next three-plus minutes, Mona Shores drove 65 yards to score and ultimately punch their ticket to Ford Field and the Division 2 finals.
Hatcher totaled 165 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. Kolbe Trovinger led the Mona Shores defense with nine tackles.
Trainor was 30-of-40 passing for 384 yards and five touchdowns for the Warriors. Ahern had 185 yards on nine catches while Yaseen finished with 91 yards on 10 catches.