DETROIT (WOOD) — At halftime of Saturday’s Division 1 state finals, the Caledonia football team was standing up to the challenge of competing against the top-ranked team in the state.
Unfortunately, the second half proved to be the Fighting Scots’ demise in a 35-17 loss to Belleville at Ford Field.
The Tigers finished a perfect 14-0 and won back-to-back titles.
The game was deadlocked 14-14 at the half, but Caledonia was outscored 21-3 in the final two quarters.
The Fighting Scots (12-2) made their first appearance in the finals since 2005, the same year they won a Division 3 state title.
“I thought our kids played really hard, and in the second half they wore us down with their size,” Caledonia coach Derek Pennington said. “We needed to finish a few drives early in the game, but I’m proud of our kids and the effort they made. It’s a great group and we won 12 games.”
The Fighting Scots played inspired ball early against the heavily-favored defending state champions and led twice in the first half.
Junior Brock Townsend helped stake Caledonia to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter with a 1-yard run.
After Belleville tied it late in the first, the Fighting Scots retook the lead on another Townsend 1-yard run, set up by a spectacular run from quarterback Mason McKenzie.
Tigers’ sophomore quarterback Bryce Underwood threw a touchdown pass to knot the score with 15 seconds remaining in the first half.
The touchdown came after the Fighting Scots failed to convert on a fourth-and-two and gave Belleville a short field.
“I think the play that flipped the game was when we were up 14-7 and called a timeout because we wanted to get a shot down the field and we didn’t pick up a blitz,” Pennington said. “We took a sack, and they ended up scoring right before the half. I think that gave them a lot of momentum.”
Caledonia took another brief 17-14 lead on a 22-yard field goal by Luke Vogler late in the third, but the Fighting Scots wouldn’t score again as the Tigers scored 21 unanswered points.
Underwood, who ran for 149 yards and passed for 155, put the game out of reach when he scampered 48 yards for the score and a double-digit lead.
He also added another touchdown pass with less than four minutes remaining.
McKenzie led the Fighting Scots with 134 rushing yards on 23 carries.
“We had a great season so we have to keep our heads high, but it definitely sucks to lose your last game,” McKenzie said. “This is my last game at Caledonia so it’s definitely tough, but there’s not much of a better experience than this.”