Article and photos courtesy of The Oakland Press
By Dan Fenner
BLOOMFIELD HILLS — From jubilation to disgust, the Bloomfield Hills football team ran the gamut of emotion in a matter of seconds Friday, as a late-game onside kick was recovered by the Black Hawks only to see possession turned over to Rochester Adams moments later.
Trailing by three points with 2:40 to play, Bloomfield Hills thought its comeback quest had been extended, but referees convened and ruled the ball had not quite traveled the requisite 10 yards before being touched, igniting an outpouring of emotion on both sidelines.
Awarded possession, Adams finished off its 24-21 victory by securing two first downs that ran out the remaining clock in its Oakland Activities Association Red Division opener.
Adams extended its lead to 24-14 with 3:26 left in the fourth quarter when senior Nico Jackson broke free for a 70-yard untouched run on the first play of a new drive.
“Nico is a senior captain for us and the kids blocked their butt off for him,” Highlanders coach Tony Patritto said. “We had two captains not playing tonight, both two-way starters. Our right tackle, Will Myers, made a great block on that play. That just makes me so happy when a backup steps in and does that in crunch time.”
Not ready to surrender, Bloomfield Hills resiliently put together an 80-yard drive that found the end zone just 1:17 later. Senior Jacob Gasso recorded a 6-yard touchdown run to pull the Black Hawks within a field goal.
Then came the near-miss of the onside kick.
“I thought from a high school football perspective, this was a great night of football from both sides,” Loria said. “We battled back and battled back, but sometimes you shoot yourself in the foot. When the day is over, I say (penalty) calls don’t make the game. We can only control ourselves between whistles. Penalties are on us. We played hard for 48 minutes.”
The first half was nearly scoreless until each team broke through in the final minute of the second quarter.
With halftime approaching, Bloomfield Hills took a 7-0 lead on a 52-yard touchdown connection through the air. Quarterback Andrew Barash zipped a pass to the sideline for wide receiver Alec Ward, who slipped his coverage and knifed diagonally across the field, outracing the secondary to the end zone.
Adams made the most of the 34 seconds remaining before halftime, however. A long catch and run by Jackson and a horse collar tackle penalty positioned the Highlanders in the red zone. On the next play, quarterback Carter Ferris located Anthony Patritto over the middle for an 11-yard touchdown just 18 seconds after Bloomfield Hills had gotten on the board
The extra point was missed, leaving the Black Hawks in front 7-6 at halftime.
The Highlanders took a 14-7 lead late in the third quarter when Farris inched across the goal line for a touchdown, then found Ryan Rifenberg open for a 2-point conversion. Ben Patton added a 33-yard field goal to put Adams up 10 points early in the final stanza.
Bloomfield Hills drew itself back into the game on the ensuing possession, with Ward making a short catch between two defenders, only to race 94 yards to the end zone by slipping a tackle.
“(Ward) is a great player. I have great respect for their coaches and there’s no quit in that team,” Patritto said of the Black Hawks. “They made some big plays and we have to shore up our defense. Those aren’t the types of plays we normally give up.”
Both teams will return to action next Friday with Adams (2-0, 1-0 OAA Red) hosting Lake Orion and Bloomfield Hills (1-1, 0-1 OAA Red) on the road at Southfield A&T.