BY DAN STICKRADT
TROY — Two years ago on the same field, Lake Orion held off Detroit Cass Tech in a state semifinals football game at Troy Athens.
On Saturday, the Technicians gained their shot at revenge and delivered some pay back.
Seventh-ranked Cass Tech posted a 34-27 victory over third-ranked Lake Orion in a D-1 state semifinals clash at Athens. The win catapults the defending state champion Technicians into the state finals Nov. 17 at Ford Field against Novi Detroit Catholic Central in a rematch of last year’s state title bout.
Lake Orion, which was making its third Final Four appearance in five years and fourth overall in head coach Chris Bell’s 15 seasons at the helm, finish with an 11-2 record. Both of the Dragons’ losses this season were by seven points.
“Oh, we remembered that loss,” beamed Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilscher.”That’s all we talked about this week. We brought in some players from that (graduating) class to speak to the players. They were very motivated.”
Lake Orion won that encounter in the 2010 state semifinals, 24-21, where the Dragons recovered a fumble on their own 2 inside a minute to win.
“I was in eighth grade when we lost that game, so I felt like we had to win this for those seniors and juniors on that team,” said Cass Tech sophomore quarterback Jayru Campbell. “We had something extra to play for.”
Cass Tech led 28-27 in the fourth quarter when Lake Orion junior Corey Ester scored on a 6-yard TDs sprint with 9:55 to go. The extra point was wide right.
Lake Orion turned the ball over on downs twice down the stretch. After gaining the ball back on Cass Tech’s fake field goal attempt, the Dragons stalled out on their own 31. On their final drive, they turned it over on downs on the Orion 42 with 18 ticks to play.
‘I felt like we left plays on the field,” sighed Bell. “We had a chance to drive down the field but we didn’t make the plays. Hats off to the Cass Tech defense for not allowing us to come back.
“I’m proud of my boys for the great run that they had,” continued Bell. “We just came up a little short.”
Cass Tech scored on2:26 left when sophomore Mike Weber scored on a 10-yard touchdown run. The extra point failed, although Lake Orion would not threaten on its final drive.
Campbell set up Cass Tech with its first lead with 5:29 to go in the first quarter when Campbell’s 71-yard bomb pass to Damon Webb was good for a touchdown.
Lake Orion answered with 3:11 left in the opening frame on Jacob Miller’s 1-yard plunge.
Once again, Cass Tech had the answer to go up for good on Weber’s 5-yard run with 1:40 left in the first. The Technicians tacked on seven more points when Campbell scored on a 10-yard keeper.
Lake Orion clawed back to within seven points at 21-14 by halftime when Chaz Miller hauled in a 9-yard strike from Derek Delaura with no time left.
In the third quarter, Lake Orion eventually tied the game at 21-21 with 4:39 left when Weber caught a 19-yard pass from Campbell.
“Every time they came back on us, we had guys come through and make plays,” said Wilscher. “We were waiting for a breakout game for some of these guys and that came today. This was a team win. We had so many guys step up and make plays.”
Campbell was 10-for-13 for 192 yards, while Weber had 127 yards on 21 carries.
Ester finished with eight carries for 100 yards and Miller was held in check with 57 yards on 19 carries. Delaura was 7-for-21 for 106 yards.
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