Win and Advance: Trojans Topple Haslett, Gain Rematch with DeWitt

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Monday, October 29, 2018, 8:21 am
Mark Meyer

East Lansing left little room to spare with its three-point victory over Haslett in the opening round of the Division 3 playoffs at Jeff Smith Field.

The assorted bits and pieces of gridiron success have added up to a most successful season for the East Lansing football team, now 9-1 after Friday’s 33-30 playoff victory over Haslett.

The good news for the football Trojans is that the season has been extended into the month of November at a time when many schools have already packed away their equipment for the year.

The bad news for East Lansing is that it cannot afford sustained lapses like the one that allowed Haslett to trim a 17-point deficit to a mere three points in less than 30 seconds.

The good news for the Trojans is that senior kick return specialist Justin Brown – a sprinter with breakaway speed – provided a special teams spark for East Lansing with his second runback of the season, this time from 88 yards away.

The bad news for East Lansing is that the MHSAA bracketologists did them few favors by lining up CAAC Blue powerhouse DeWitt (10-0) in the second round of the Division 3 playoffs.

The good news for the Trojans is that its defense held its ground in the fourth quarter against the multifaceted Haslett offense, stopping the Vikings on not one, not two, but three fourth-down situations inside Trojan territory.

The bad news for East Lansing is that time is running short to put those bits and pieces together for a full 48 minutes.

Haslett quarterback Mitchell Mowid breaks through the grasp of East Lansing defender Jayth Joseph to score a third-quarter touchdown. Justin Brown (6), Kobe Hayward (1) and the rest of the EL defense eventually stopped Mowid and the Vikings on three separate fourth-down plays in the fourth quarter to secure a 33-30 victory.

“We are still a work in progress, no question about that,” said East Lansing head coach Bill Feraco. “But for the kids, a playoff victory is important, no matter how it happens.”

East Lansing advanced to round two on the strength of senior tailback Kobe Hayward’s running (28 carries, 176 yards, 2 touchdowns), a game-high eight receptions by sophomore wide receiver Andrel Anthony, 15 tackles by junior captain Jamar Mills, Brown’s electrifying kick return and a defense that bent at times but stood tall when it counted.

“Amazing,” said senior captain and defensive back Kaleb Elam. “We practice fourth down plays all week, we practice two-minute drills all week. The coaches put us in the right spots and all we have to do is execute.”

East Lansing turned a 24-16 halftime advantage into a 33-16 lead on the first series of the third quarter. After Jalil Lewis had sacked Haslett quarterback Mitchell Mowid for an eight-yard loss, Trojan linebacker T’Senre Gray dropped Mowid in the end zone for a safety.

Following a Haslett free kick, the Trojans took five plays to move 43 yards and looked to be in full command with nine minutes remaining in the third quarter.

That is until Mowid drove the Vikings 78 yards and capped off the drive with a 4-yard plunge, trimming the Trojan lead to 33-23. On the ensuing kickoff, Haslett jarred the ball loose from Elam and recovered inside East Lansing territory at the 37-yard-line. Two plays later Haslett running back Benjamin Brittain sliced through the Trojan secondary on his way to a 33-yard touchdown run. Drew Dabler’s point-after kick reduced the East Lansing lead to three points.

“Give Haslett all the credit, they had us reeling,” Feraco said.

“The option (offense) is tough to defend,” said Hayward, who doubles as a defensive back. “The coaches keep reminding us to do our ‘one-eleventh.’ If everyone does their own job and follows their assignments, the defense will get the job done.”

East Lansing secured the victory by grinding out two first downs with less than five minutes to play. Thus, a rematch with DeWitt awaits: the Panthers handed EL its only loss of the season, 37-0 on Homecoming at Lynn C. Adams Stadium.

All of which led to the best news of the night.

“We have another week of practice, and we won’t be turning in our equipment this week,” Feraco said.

Game on, Trojans.



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