Football: Huron takes Saline to final play in playoff thriller

The Saline football team (7-1) slipped by Huron (3-3) in the second round of the playoffs on Friday, Nov. 6. The Hornets trailed three different times before coming back to win 34-27. Larry Robinson scored the game-winning touchdown for Saline with 4:03 left.

Huron’s attempt at a game-tying drive in the final seconds fell incomplete.

“I saw a lot of trust in each other. They believed that they could beat these guys. We had some key turnovers and made some key mistakes but we kept fighting,” Huron coach Antaiwn Mack said following the loss. “They woke guys up and let them know that we’re for real. We’re for real about this football program and building it.”

Huron got off to a quick start as Tyson Edmundson hit Anthony Pinnace for a 41-yard touchdown but Saline responded immediately with a 93-yard TD return by Caden Winston. Both teams would score on their next possessions as well, as Pinnace added a second receiving score followed by a Gavin Lytle touchdown on a 2-yard run.

Each team also turned the ball over twice in the first half, including an interception from Saline’s Garrett Baldwin late in the first quarter. Pinnace scored his third touchdown in the first 13 minutes of the game as he took a short pass 38 yards to the house to put Huron up 21-15. Lytle tied the game with 3:09 left in the half on a 5-yard score.

The first half was tight as Huron and Saline totaled the same amount of third down conversions (3-3), big plays (9-9), and points (21-21). That continued into the second half as well. After Pinnace intercepted Robinson at the 15-yard line to stop a scoring drive, Saline returned the favor and kept the score tied going to the fourth quarter.

Robinson gave the Hornets a 27-21 lead with 8:08 remaining but Huron scored less than a minute later, as Brandon Johnson caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from Edmundson. The extra point attempt by Adam Samaha was blocked. Robinson scored what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown on a 26-yard run to the left sideline.

The River Rats had two chances to tie the game but Edmundson was picked off by Evan Gerlinger on the first drive, before a heave on 4th & 18 fell incomplete with less than 30 seconds remaining. Both teams finished with nine big plays and 17 first downs but Saline converted 62.5 percent of their third downs, compared to Huron’s 44.4 percent.

“We felt like they weren’t very athletic defensively. We just felt like they couldn’t cover our guys so we threw three quick strikes early in the game,” Mack explained. “They capitalized, they made some big plays, and they came out victorious. One of the best football teams in the state of Michigan that we just took down to the wire. I’m definitely proud.”

Saline will advance to play Holt next Friday at home.