Saline defense bends, but doesn't break in win over Temperance Bedford
Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com
Saline’s defense couldn’t have been in much better position early in the fourth quarter of its 16-14 win over Temperance Bedford Friday night. It had given up just over 100 yards of total offense, and had kept Bedford off the scoreboard completely and off balance all night.
But one play threatened to change all that.
When Bedford quarterback Brad Boss rolled out toward the visitor sideline to make a pass in the fourth quarter, Saline linebacker Nick Sekarak gave chase. Sekarak never saw the Bedford player charge at him from the side and level him.
The hit left Sekarak on the turf for several minutes, while his teammates stewed. The play didn’t draw a penalty. But it drew plenty of ire from linebacker Caleb Ashby, who had to be spoken to by officials.
“I didn’t like that play,” Ashby said. “I wasn’t saying much, the ref just told me to calm down, I was just pointing at him like I’m going to get you. I wasn’t saying anything, I was just pointing at him.”
Sekarak walked off the field, but couldn’t return. In his time on the field, he had amassed 11 tackles, including two for loss, and had been a disruptive force in the Bedford backfield all night.
While the loss was significant, Palka said the Hornets’ platoon system helps have substitute players prepared for situations like that.
“He was making all kinds of plays and tackles for loss,” Palka said. “Having to sub other guys in, that’s why we try to develop depth throughout the course of the year.”
The last half of the fourth quarter proved the toughest for the Saline defense. The Hornets gave up back-to-back 80-yard drives, and Bedford found a rhythm through the air and on the ground.
When Boss ran the ball in from two yard out with 44 seconds left to put the Kicking Mules down by two, it seemed like Bedford had all the momentum.
But when Saline needed one last play on the two-point conversion, it was Geordan Olson, who stepped in for Sekarak, who broke up the pass.
“Geordan Olson made the play of the game,” Ashby said. “He pushed the receiver out of bounds so he didn’t score.”
The Hornets defense has been the bedrock of the team’s resurgent season. It had given up just 33 points in the five games since Saline’s last game against Bedford.
So even when things looked grim late Friday night, team members didn’t give up hope.
“Our defense bends and doesn’t break every week,” quarterback Tyler Palka said.