Portland defensive back Tanner Allison celebrates Randall Gensterblum's (20) interception during the first half of their win in the Division 5 state final today at Ford Field. / JARRAD HENDERSON/DFP
DETROIT (DETROIT FREE PRESS) - Portland used the Tanner Allison-to-Auston Brandt passing combination today to claim the Division 5 football title with a 12-9 victory over Grand Rapids West Catholic at Ford Field.
Portland's (13-1) defense came up with a goal-line stand against the Falcons, who had a first-and-goal at the 10 in the last 2 minutes of the fourth quarter, but had to give the ball back on downs.
"We've tried three field goals in the last two weeks and hadn't made any of them," said Falcons coach Dan Rohn. "We've got a young kid there. We called a rolling screen (on fourth down) and got what we wanted, but it was slow in developing."
After dropping a sure touchdown pass early in the game, Brandt caught four passes for 178 yards and a score and the Raiders' defense bent but didn't break.
After Brandt dropped a sure touchdown pass, Allison went back to the same play. While falling to the ground in the clutches of a West Catholic defensive line, he threw in Brandt's direction and 94-yards later Brandt was in the end zone with the third-longest pass play in state finals history.
"He (Allison) just told me to go back out there and do what I've been doing all season," said Brandt. "I don't think it was the same play we had run, but I found a way to get open even though they had stellar safeties and corners on me all night."
Allison said: "I saw them blitz and I knew the play was blown up right away. I was actually trying to throw the all away and he just happened to be there. I just tried to out-throw him."
The play gave the Raiders a 12-0 lead with 9:33 left in the first half.
Portland struck first on a 1-yard quarterback keeper by Allison with 4:27 left in the first quarter for a 6-0 lead.
West Catholic (10-4) forced the first turnover of the game when Jacob Kimmell coughed it up with Brad Burns recovering at the Raiders 25.
The Falcons drove to the Portland 8, but a series of penalties pushed West Catholic back to the 27. At the Portland 7, Travis Russell was intercepted by Adam Goodman in the end zone and the linebacker brought the ball out to the 6.
West Catholic held onto the ball long enough to put together a 69-yard drive with Andy Corey contributing the final 9 yards with 62 seconds left in the half to pull the Falcons to within 12-7 despite three first-half interceptions.
West Catholic had a chance to get closer in the third, but a 27-yard field goal attempt by Travis Hoving was blocked.
The Falcons defense came up with the first points of the second half when Mitch Stanitzek sacked Allison in the end zone with 9:47 left to make it 12-9.
The Raiders defense held after the Falcons started from the Portland 47 after the free kick.
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.