DETROIT (WOOD) — A return to the state finals for the first time in nearly a decade didn’t end as the Montague football team hoped.
A lack of depth against the two-time defending state champions proved too difficult to overcome.
Montague couldn’t keep up with Jackson Lumen Christi in the second half and suffered a 42-28 loss in the Division 6 state title game at Ford Field.
It was the Titans’ third state title in a row.
“We ran out of gas today,” Wildcats coach Pat Collins said. “They’re folding guys in all the time and we just don’t have those guys. Our guys worked hard and I’m proud of our guys, but that’s who we are and we have nine guys going both ways. They have a whole bunch of guys playing football and that’s tough on a small school.”
It was the Wildcats’ first state finals appearance since 2009 when they went unbeaten en route to their second straight state title.
Despite being outnumbered, Montague (11-3) was able to hang with Lumen Christi (13-0) in the first half.
Senior Bryce Stark opened the scoring with a 57-yard touchdown run to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, but Jackson Lumen Christi countered with back-to-back scores to snag a 14-7 lead.
Montague answered after a fumble recovery at midfield. Stark raced 21 yards for another touchdown run and knotted the score at 14-14.
The Titans appeared poised to regain the lead before the half, but Montague’s Sebastian Archer picked off quarterback Joe Barrett near the sidelines to halt the scoring drive.
“We gave it our best, and I thought we played tough in the first half, but I really felt like we just ran out of gas,” Collins said. “If it was a video game and guys don’t get tired, maybe the Cats would be on top, but it wasn’t. This is real life. We have great players, but they just got tired.”
Fatigue set in for Montague in the second half and Lumen Christi took advantage of it.
The Titans scored 28 consecutive points to build a 42-14 lead and end the Wildcats’ title aspirations.
Despite the loss, Archer said this year’s senior class met expectations and established a new standard for the program.
“Throughout my four years the seniors set the bar and this year’s group raised the bar and that’s exactly what we were looking for,” he said. “We got beat by a great team today and they knew how to play the game. There’s no shame in that. We went out and gave it our all, and the opportunity to come here and play is a blessing. It was an honor to play at Ford Field.”
Stark rushed for 156 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns, while sophomore quarterback Drew Collins completed 5 of 12 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns.