Southview High School's Nate Hall, 81, tries to grab a pass intended for Canton McKinley's Jeff Richardson, 14, in the first half of the Division I football playoff opener.
Southview could not afford to be its own worst enemy, and Canton McKinley took full advantage, blindsiding the Cougars in a Division I football playoff opener on Saturday night.
The Cougars trailed by just one point at the half, but the Bulldogs reeled off 27 unanswered points to knock out Southview 49-21. The Bulldogs (9-2) converted four turnovers into 23 points and scored on six straight possessions to pull away.
“It didn’t bounce our way,” Southview coach Jim Mayzes said. “If not for a few turnovers, we can play with those guys. We gave them too many points. There were strategic things that went wrong. But our kids battled their butts off. They have some great players, and we have some great players.”
Southview (9-2) held leads of 7-0, then 14-7 and 21-13, but it was all Bulldogs after that. McKinley advances to face Whitmer in a second round game next weekend.
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Southview junior quarterback Austin Valdez had a good night early, connecting with senior wideout Allen Gant on nine passes for 158 yards. The pair hooked up on an 18-yard TD as Southview went up 21-13. Valdez showed good patience to allow Gant to get open in the back of the end zone, and Gant got his feet in for the score with 4:21 left in the half.
“In the first half we proved we could play with them,” Mayzes said. “Austin hung in the pocket all night. Our kids played with a lot of pride.”
Valdez completed 16-of-32 passes for 269 yards, but he also threw two interceptions. JQ Bowers rushed for 42 yards and had 48 receiving yards. Jay Fisher scored twice on the ground for Southview.
Down by one, the Cougars got the ball to start the second half but had to punt. McKinley then went up 28-21 on a 36-yard strike from Tyler Foster to Terrance Burt. The Bulldogs had problems on the point-after-attempt and failed for the third time to convert but still led by seven.
After another Cougar punt, McKinley scored on its first snap as Foster hooked up with Burt on a 90-yard strike to seize a 35-21 lead with 3:19 left in the third quarter. Foster hit Burt right in stride with a perfectly place pass about 40 yards down field and Burt sprinted the rest of the way.
The Bulldogs then turned another Cougar miscue into points. Valdez threw an interception, and then McKinley made it 42-21 on a 14-yard run by freshman Eric Glover.
“One thing that hurt us was that they didn’t have any guys going both ways,” Mayzes said. “Our skill guys go both ways. That got to us.”
Glover, a freshman, rushed for 144 yards and two scores, while Foster connected on 9-of-17 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns.
“This is truly the beauty of two-platoon football,” McKinley coach Ron Johnson said. “They’re playing four or five wide and running all over. We’re playing four wide, making them chase us all over. They just ran out of gas, and we ran by them.”
Southview recovered an onside kick to start the game. Seven plays later the Cougars scored on Fisher’s three-yard run.
“We got that onside kick and went right down and scored, and our kids stepped up,” Mayzes said.
The Cougars then held the Bulldogs to a three-and-out. But they then muffed the punt, and McKinley recovered at the Southview 48. The Bulldogs cashed in when Foster found Zach Sweat on a seven-yard TD strike to tie it at 7.
Then sacks by Tino Vergiels and Fisher ended the Bulldogs’ third drive. Southview then drove 57 yards to take a 14-7 lead as Fisher scored on a seven-yard run. A 26-yard pass from Valdez to Gant set up the score.
McKinley responded immediately as Glover sprinted 65 yards for a score. The run on the point after failed as Southview held a 14-13 edge with 6:34 left in the first half.
But Valdez then hooked up with Jenard Pinckney on a 22-yard pass play, and Southview went up 21-13 on an 18-yard TD strike from Valdez to Gant. Three Southview turnovers resulted in 17 first-half points for McKinley, allowing the Bulldogs to take a 22-21 lead into the half.