Father Gabriel Richard falls in first round of playoffs

Father Gabriel Richard (4-6, 0-5) fell to Whitmore Lake (9-1, 7-0) on Friday, Nov. 1 at Whitmore Lake High School. The Fighting Irish got off to a quick start but fell 45-28 after giving up 19 straight points in the second half. Whitmore Lake forced three fumbles and picked up 18 first downs en route to the victory.

“We had success moving the ball, unfortunately we fumbled twice. You can’t do that because they’re a good team. We battled and after a while, we just kind of caved in. Their offense was rolling and they were more physical and wanted it more than us,” said Father Gabriel Richard head coach Matt Giarmo. “In these games, you just never know what’s going to happen and we have to come out ready to play and we didn’t do as great of a job at that as last time.”

Father Gabriel Richard defeated Whitmore Lake 22-20 earlier in the season.

Father Gabriel Richard won the coin toss before the game and chose to receive. Cole Henning, a Whitmore Lake senior, began the game with a short kick off. The Fighting Irish came out firing on offense, picking up four first downs on their first drive. George White, junior running back and linebacker, earned two first downs himself and helped Father Gabriel Richard get into the red zone. QB Gregory Kendzicky had a one-yard touchdown run to cap off the drive and put the Fighting Irish up 8-0.

Whitmore Lake would respond, though, marching down the field in 3:38 and scoring a touchdown of their own to tie the game. Logan Kurth had a 40-yard rush that put the Trojans in the red zone and he added a one-yard TD run to end the drive. The next Trojans possession, they made it look easy again. Kurth and Henning picked up first down rushes on the way and Zachary Brady threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Kurth. The Trojans led 14-8 after failing the two-point conversion.

Both teams scored on their next possession as Matthew Montgomery reached the end zone from nine yards out to tie for the game for the Fighting Irish, before Kurth bolted down the field for a 73-yard touchdown run. Whitmore Lake’s defense earned their second stop of the game when Evan Vaughn recovered a Father Gabriel Richard fumble. The following play was a 23-yard touchdown rush by senior captain Evan Romeo.

The Trojans held a 26-14 lead at halftime. Kurth had two touchdowns at the break.

Whitmore Lake’s first drive of the second half was cut short due to two straight false starts which forced a punt. Father Gabriel Richard took advantage when Jake Smith scored from 15 yards out. The score came following a 4th down conversion as Kendzicky floated a perfect pass down the right sideline. The only other score of the quarter came from Evan Romeo as he sprinted into the end zone from the 43-yard line. The Trojans took a 32-20 lead into the fourth quarter.

Giarmo discussed Kurth and Romeo: “They played hard. Kurth plays nose guard and outside linebacker too. He’s a great player. They’re tough kids and we have to build toward that. I told our guys that we have to get back in the weight room this summer and get bigger and stronger like them. Romeo just makes plays all over the field. He forced the fumble down here and Kurth forced one earlier in the game.”

It looked like Father Gabriel Richard would have a chance to cut into the 12-point deficit but they fumbled in the red zone and the Trojans took over as Evan Vaugh recovered the ball. Just over four minutes later, Evan Romeo scored a one-yard touchdown to put the game out of reach. Kendzicky fumbled on the next possession for the Fighting Irish and Whitmore Lake picked up two more first downs before Kurth added his third touchdown of the night.

Kendzicky connected with Jack Smith for a 56-yard touchdown for the final score of the night with 26 seconds left. The Irish also added the two-point conversion to cut the Trojans lead to 45-28. Father Gabriel Richard attempted an onside kick as a last ditch effort but it was recovered by Travis Lucas. Whitmore Lake was able to take a knee and run out the remainder of the clock to seal the 17-point victory.

“They stuck to what they do well and they ran the ball on us. I told our kids that could be us soon but I’m happy with how we came out. These seniors had four head coaches in four years which isn’t easy,” said Giarmo. “Coming into the season we had a lot of questions and we made a lot of improvements on offense and defense towards the end of the year. We gotta get ready for games like this.”