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Posted on Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 11:55 p.m.

Saline stops late fourth-down conversion try, holds on to top Temperance Bedford

By Kyle Austin


Saline running back Griffin Wooley runs the ball in the first half against Temperance Bedford Friday night.

Courtney Sacco |

Saline broke up a two-point conversion pass in the final minute as it staved off a late Temperance Bedford comeback bid and held on for a 16-14 win Friday night at home.

The game marked Saline's first playoff win since 2008. The Hornets will face Pioneer next Friday at home in a district title game. Pioneer won the first game, 7-6, marking Saline's only loss of the season.

The Hornets entered the fourth quarter up 16-0, but gave up touchdown drives of 80 and 81 yards in the final frame to give Bedford a chance at a game-tying conversion.

More coverage: Boxscore | Football roundup | Photo Gallery | Saline defense bends but doesn't break

Bedford appeared to have a completion made on the play, before linebacker Geordan Olson pushed the receiver and dislodged the ball with 44 seconds left.

"Play of the game," senior linebacker Caleb Ashby said.

The Kicking Mules tried an onside kick, but Saline quarterback Tyler Palka, who has been on the hands team for only two weeks, fell on the ball.

“I knew they were going to kick it towards me, they see the quarterback out there," Palka said. "I got ticked instantly in my mind, and I just decided I’ve got to make a play. I want to win the game.”

The first time the two teams met, Saline jumped out to a two-touchdown lead, before allowing Bedford to come back and take a halftime lead. Saline scored a pair of third-quarter touchdowns and held on to win, 28-25.

In the rematch, Saline's early lead held up in the end. After its first offensive drive stalled, the Hornets' second went 81 yards on 11 plays to open the scoring in the first quarter, capped off by a four-yard Kevin Gross touchdown.

Saline went into halftime up nine, after it couldn't quite cash in on two near touchdowns. On its second drive, the Hornets nearly recorded a third-down touchdown pass before the receiver was ruled out of bounds. Saline settled for a 27-yard Gage Hammond field goal.

One drive later, Saline dropped a would-be touchdown pass on fourth down to turn the ball over.

“It felt like we should have been up 21-0, to be honest with you," Saline coach Joe Palka said. "Any time you don’t score an extra point or leave points on the field, that’s always going to come back and bite you. We were fortunate tonight to just have enough.”

But the Hornets' defensive group dominated in the first half, giving up just 63 yards of rushing, all on the ground, and just three first downs.

Before Bedford went on its two late scoring drives, the Saline defense had given up just over 100 yards of total offense.

"I thought we did a great job defending Bedford," Joe Palka said. "There was a couple of bad breaks, bad bounces and some good offense by them. We knew we wouldn’t keep them off the board, but I thought overall we did a nice job against them defensively."

Gross scored again in the third quarter from 18 yards out to give Saline a two-touchdown lead. He finished with 84 yards rushing and his team's only two touchdowns.

Tyler Palka was 10-for-16 for 69 yards and an interception, which set up Bedford's first scoring drives. Hammond caught six passes and had 51 rushing yards on two reverses.

It didn't take long after the game for Saline to turn its attention to Pioneer, its only loss of the season. The Pioneers topped Monroe, 34-0 Friday night.

"I’m sure they feel we have something to prove, we feel we have something to prove," Joe Palka said. "It sounds like they lit it up tonight, so it’s going to be a great challenge for us."

Kyle Austin covers sports for He can be reached at or 734-623-2535. Follow him on Twitter @KAustin_AA.


Kyle Austin

Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

Wow, 38 comments? Quite the interest in this rematch. If you think this is the best district title game, do us a favor and vote for it in our Game of the Week poll.


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

They need to worry about zak davis for pioneer who is back from an injury,he is the one who scored the only touchdown against saline.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 12:04 p.m.


Claudio Petrovic

Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 7:35 p.m.

To put #3's dominance in even more perspective. In the last 3 games he has 65car 497yds and 7TD. That is superior to #2's production for the whole season.

Dave Jopkins

Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

#3 is the better back. Not zak Davis. What games do you watch?

Claudio Petrovic

Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

1,061yds 7.2ypc 14TD's or 478yds 5.6 5TD's which back are you taking? Numbers don't lie son. But when Thomas needs a spell, it'll be nice to have 500yd rusher backing him up.


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 7:54 p.m.

Didn't you say we won't win? Also that our coaching staff crippled the team?? I am confident with our current offense.

Claudio Petrovic

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 4:42 a.m.

Who is going to stop All-SEC Red Running Back Marquise Thomas? Who lit the Hornets up for 115yds last time. We know who's going to stop All SEC Red Quarterback Tyler Palko who did nada against the purple gang last time around. This won't be close. Pioneer isn't going to give Saline the ball 6 times again.


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.

Yea been through that 2 weeks ago, move didn't happen.


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 11:52 a.m.

After the fiasco with Huron Pioneer should even be allowed in the playoffs.

Claudio Petrovic

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

I'm not even sure that "Bia Bia" being used in that context makes any sense but whatever. You're felling it. I can't wait till Friday.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

Bla Bla Bla !!! Just plain STUPIDITY on Pioneers behave to underestimate the new era of football that Saline is playing also in case you didn't know Saline has more fans in Ann Arbor and surrounding area's combined between Huron, Pioneer, Skyline !!! Saline won't take Pioneer lightly come next friday @ districts!!! GO HORNETS

Claudio Petrovic

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

Just think if they didn't have a combined 13 TO's against those "good" teams they'd be 3-0 in those contest but with that said. They STILL beat Saline and didn't allow them to score. Correction they allowed 5 SEC TD's in 7 contest. You can't beat someone when you can't score. Just think, they didn't even have Starting SS Vada Mcgowan last night, welp he'll be healthy this week........... Ask Huron about Pioneer's secondary, them boys don't play.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 10:21 a.m.

You should probably add Bedford to pioneers list as well.... And Saline's list? No De Lasalle, no Brother rice...


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 6:25 a.m.

Claudy gettin thru to you is like beating a dead horse!!! Your D only gave up 3 Td's against the bottom of the SEC teams DUH!!! you guys only faced 3 really good teams all year thats BROTHER RICE & DE LA SALLE & SALINE and now were back to make something right after that 1 piont loss!!!


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 6:05 a.m.

You are really serious about this..... Get a grip on yourself and reality.... Tell yourself it's only a game and your time to shine is up... Signing off, purple pride Take it from here cp


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Hey you quitcrying & quit dreaming of this 33 - 6 Pioneer victory next week it ain't gonna happen yo so wake up !!! Don't make me have to tell you on next friday after the game " TOLD YA SO!!! SALINE WINS!!!

Claudio Petrovic

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 5:48 a.m.

Craig that D has given up 3 SEC TD's all year. You think they will give up 4 in one game? That's just cray! 2FG's purp.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 5:44 a.m.

Pretty generous Mr Petrovic, but I'll take it...33-6 pioneer..


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 5:39 a.m.

Cp, 2 field goals AGAIN or one touchdown?


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 5:31 a.m.

Claudy your only giving Saline 6 ? Thats pretty tight you know its going to closer than that I'll go saline 33 Pioneer 28

Claudio Petrovic

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 5:21 a.m.

I'm sorry Craig, I love your spirit but Helmuth ain't walking through that door. Pioneer is a new team behind that Junior QB of theirs (Who's gonna tortue you next year too) and that's a state championship caliber D............ Pioneer 33 Saline 6


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 5:10 a.m.

Claudy now your talking RIDICULOUSNESS Pioneer ain't got nuttin on us i know you know you guys don't really wanna face off again!!! Saline over Pioneer now bow down!!!

Claudio Petrovic

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 4:51 a.m.

6 "forced" turnovers and they still couldn't win. They shouldn't be saying anything. Did you just see what Pioneer did to a team that actually BEAT them? Can you imagine what they are going to do to someone they already beat? I love it!


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 4:45 a.m.

According to our friend above possibly the 2006 & 2008 defense can.....


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 4:30 a.m.

2006 & 2008???? all those players have left the building.....lets stick with 2012 please. Yup returning SEC champs, check our resume...


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 5:05 a.m.

Yea I took a trip down memory lane like you friend, I was referring to 2011. What's your jersey number? 2012 number not your 2006 or 2008, I want to keep a eye out for ya..


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Saline's resume filled with postseason victories over Pioneer get the picture? and for your info SALINE is the true 2012 RED SEC CHAMPS !!!! lol Everyone knows this !!!!


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 3:39 a.m.

I hear's quiet over here....on to the next....screaming purple and white...


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 4:32 a.m.

Not only do i believe we can win i know we can win!!! GO HORNETS


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 4:25 a.m.

Eat a few Hornets then you get SWARMED more like!!! Saline bowed the first time by 1 piont. Hornets will find a way you knock you off just like in 2006 & in 2008 we beat you by 1 point!!! We always beat you when it matters most and that in the playoffs!!!


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 3:52 a.m.

No, We don't eat people, we eat hornets, going back for a second helping...


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 3:49 a.m.

Oh quit crying you purple people eater !!! Anyways Go Hornets!!!


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 3:10 a.m.

GO Hornets!!! Bring on the thugs... I mean the pioneers.

Claudio Petrovic

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 4:48 a.m.

This diss is so weak, last week.

Claudio Petrovic

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 2:25 a.m.

It's over for the Hornets next week! Purple Pride!!!!!

Claudio Petrovic

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 4:24 a.m.

I wish you guys luck Jesus,Mohammed, Moses, Vince Helmuth and Chris Baker cause you're going to need all of them on Friday.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 3:17 a.m.

Mind over matter Claudy i don't mind because you don't matter!!! Saline over Pioneer!!!


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 1:44 a.m.