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Posted on Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 5:56 p.m.

Turnovers, penalties prove costly for Father Gabriel Richard in semifinal loss to Portland

By Kyle Austin


Father Gabriel Rihard quarterback Joe Kendzicky fumbles after being tackled against Portland in the Division 5 state semifinals on Saturday at Howell High School. Portland won 28-23.

Courtney Sacco |

Father Gabriel Richard came into Saturday’s state semifinal against Portland as a strong ball-control team. The Irish had lost four fumbles in 13 games all season, and had thrown five interceptions.

But when they tried to come back in the second half of a 28-23 loss Saturday, the Irish turned the ball over three times in the second half, and each of them proved costly.

The first came on the drive just after Portland took its first lead of the game, with two minutes, 19 seconds left in the third quarter. On the fifth play of the drive, FGR quarterback Joe Kendzicky was hit hard from behind and fumbled before getting off a pass attempt.

Portland recovered, and scored seven plays later to extend its lead to 28-17.

When Richard got the ball back, it scored immediately on a 69-yard pass from Kendzicky to Blaise Sterns to make it a one-touchdown game again.

The Irish went for the onside kick and recovered it, and seemed to have both the time and the momentum to erase the three-point deficit.


Father Gabriel Richard players have trouble handling a kickoff in a 28-23 loss in the Division 5 state semifinals to Portland on Saturday.

Courtney Sacco |

“I thought we were in good shape when we recovered the onside kick,” Richard coach Brian Lemons said.

The Irish advanced to the nine-yard line before throwing their first interception of the game at the goal line.

With a long field, Portland ran the ball down to under a minute left, before punting and pinning Richard on its own 18.

Two plays later, the Irish threw its final interception.

The final boxscore showed three turnovers for Richard against two takeaways, interceptions by Sterns and Nate Winnie. The first turned into a Fighting Irish first half touchdown, but the second early in the first half led to a three-and-out and FGR’s only punt of the game.

In the end, Portland’s takeaways led to more momentum shifts.

“I’ve said 100 times that in high school football, momentum is probably the biggest challenge that you’re going to have,” Lemons said. “I thought I got them to calm down a bit and we turned the ball over. There’s nothing you can do to defend that. You make good decisions with the ball and you’ll usually come out on top.”

Richard also was penalized six times for 70 yards, compared to five penalties for 25 yards for Portland. FGR’s penalties included a 15-yard facemask on Portland’s final drive and two pass interference calls.

“We played hard but I think they just came out with better momentum and they came out as the better team,” running back Ashton Hundley said. “We made small mistakes, and we didn’t capitalize on their mistakes.”

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