PLYMOUTH, Mich. - Plymouth stormed back from a 15-point deficit to beat Canton, 28-21, in the Meijer Game of the Week.
Plymouth Canton High School newspaper writer Evan Paputa contributes to WXYZ.com this week with a recap of the rivalry game.
History proved true yet again as the Plymouth Wildcats and Canton Chiefs played a barn-burner at the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park (P-CEP) Varsity Turf Field. In each of the past two meetings, a last second field goal ended the game. Tonight, however it was a late touchdown separating the two rivals.
Jamarl Eiland broke away from Chief defenders for 36 yards to give Plymouth a 28-21 lead with 6:13 remaining in the 4th quarter. Canton went 3 and out and gave the ball back. After forcing a Wildcat three and out, the Chiefs could only muster three incomplete passes before a fumble that sealed the deal.
The game started with a bang for the Canton Chiefs as they methodically worked the ball down the field. Quarterback Greg Williams found his tight end Matt McKoy on 3rd and 8 for 34 yards down to the Plymouth 31. Later, fullback Malcolm Hollingsworth cashed in from a yard out to make it 7-0 Canton.
Plymouth would answer less than a minute later on a Mike Kennedy 49 yard tough run breaking tackles the whole way. A missed extra point left it at 7-6.
"On that first carry I saw green grass and ran as hard as I can," Kennedy said.
Hollingsworth increased the Chiefs lead on a highlight reel 34 yard touchdown run hurdling a defender at the line of scrimmage. Canton led 14-6 after the first quarter.
Early in the second stanza, Canton was in the midst of a clock consuming drive and converted a 4th down inside the Wildcat 10 to give them a fresh set of downs. On 4th and goal, Kendall Scott ran right and snuck into the endzone to put Canton on top 21-6.
"I don't think it was the rain causing the slow start, I think it was our kids. On defense, we didn't dig in enough. They have a great offensive line and what they do offensively is pretty special. We made adjustments," Plymouth head coach Mike Sawchuk said.
In rivalries, crazy things happen and tonight they did. Plymouth was forced to a 3rd and 15 from their 44 yard line with under three minutes to go in the second quarter. A broken play forced Eiland to scramble. He got to the corner and took off for 51 yards down to the Canton 5.
"They gave me an open lane and I had to go ahead and take it," Eiland said on the play.
Eiland would punch it in from five yards out, but Canton still took a 21-13 lead into halftime.
Plymouth got the ball to start the second half and took full advantage. Eiland once again hurt the Chiefs. He went for 53 yards down to the Canton 15.
"A lot of the plays were me improvising. The ball was wet and harder to throw so I just read the defense and ran to the open lanes," Eiland said.
Later on the drive, he converted a 4th and 1 with a quarterback sneak to keep the drive alive.
With 8:21 to go in the 3rd, Kennedy dove in to the endzone for his second score to cut the Canton lead to just two.
"All the holes were blocked up so I was left with no choice but to jump over the line," Kennedy said.
On the two point conversion, Eiland rolled to his right and found Nate Emminger to tie the game at 21.
The magic Plymouth always seems to find came out a little early as the Wildcats blocked a Connor Shennon field goal with under a minute to play in the 3rd.
Eiland still had two more big plays in him. On a third and 10 with Chiefs all over him, he reversed fields and picked up the first down. A few plays later on 2nd and 9, he scampered for 36 yards to the house to give Plymouth a 28-21 lead with 6:13 remaining in the 4th quarter.
Canton got the ball back and went three and out. Plymouth was finally in the position they wanted to be in all week. But they couldn't run the clock out and gave the ball back to the Chiefs at their 20. Canton was in a 4th and long when Williams was sacked. The ball came loose and was recovered by Kyle McMillan of Plymouth.
After a few runs and a kneel down, the Plymouth students stormed the field and celebrated a 28-21 statement win over their rivals.
"I just want to say hats off to Canton, they are one of the best we will play all year. The game ball goes to Jamrl Eiland. He led us the whole way. He had a great game," Emminger said.
Plymouth improved to 6-1 (4-1 KLAA South) while Canton dropped to 4-3 (3-2 KLAA South). Each team will play a crossover on the road against a KLAA Central opponent to be determined.
Evan Paputa is a Plymouth Canton High School newspaper writer. He is on Twitter @