Article and photos courtesy of MIPrepzone
By Paula Pasche
ROCHESTER HILLS >> Regulation wasn’t enough time to determine whether White Lake Lakeland or Rochester Adams would advance in the playoffs.
Senior running back Robbie Tracy ran 10 yards up the middle on the Eagles’ first play of overtime to give Lakeland a 23-20 win on Friday night at Rochester Adams in a Region 2, District 2 MHSAA pre-district playoff game.
The Eagles’ defense came up with one of the key plays of the game when they recovered a fumble by the Highlanders at the Adams’ 43-yard line late in the fourth quarter.
Then on third-and-nine at Adams’ 42 with 3:35 left quarterback Brady Woodruff threw an incomplete pass. On that play Adams was whistled for roughing the passer. So instead of fourth-and-9, Lakeland had a first down at the Adams’ 27-yard line. Eight plays later Tracy ran in from 3 yards out for the touchdown. They need a two-point conversion to tie the game at 17-17 with 38 seconds remaining. They got it when Tracy rushed in for the 2 points.
“With our offense we’re kind of made for that (2-point conversion), but believe it or not we lost one of our games early on not picking it up so it was good to pick up this one,’’ Lakeland coach Joe Woodruff said.
That Adams’ roughing the passer penalty was costly. “That (mistake is) what cost us early in the season in games we didn’t play well — it kept the Rochester game close and cost us the Lake Orion game,’’ Adams coach Tony Patritto said. “So that kind of mistake is not good. The penalties were definitely a big problem for us.’’
Woodruff said that fumble recovery was key. “The defense got us the game on that one. The defense came back and got us on that one,’’ Woodruff said.
In the first half, the Highlanders’ defense didn’t have much of an answer for the Tracy and the Eagles’ run game. Adjustments were made at the half, when Adams’ defense tightened up making each rushing yard tougher to get. “We have really good defensive coaches, I can’t take any credit for that but they definitely shored it up,’’ Patritto said. “We just didn’t do what we needed on offense to put points on the board to put it away.’’
Lakeland got on the scoreboard first with a 24-yard touchdown run by Tracy with 4:50 left in the first quarter. The point-after attempt was blocked, giving them a 6-0 lead.
Adams came back on their next possession with a 21-yard touchdown scamper by Anthony Patritto, son of the coach. The extra point was good, giving Adams a 7-6 lead. They added to that with a field goal by Ben Patton with 6:37 left in the first half.
Adams’ junior quarterback Carter Farris went down awkwardly with 1:28 left in the half. He was carted off the field by medics. Patritto said the preliminary diagnosis was a broken tibia. Junior backup quarterback Jerry Garrett took over in the second half.
“Garrett, he’s had some snaps but not many. That was a tough spot for him to come in, but this is the ultimate team game,’’ coach Patritto said. “The good thing about football is you have 50-some guys on your roster and you need everyone of those guys to be important and feel valuable and when your time comes.’’
Adams took advantage of a miscue on a punt return at the start of the fourth. The punt touched a Lakeland player but Adams’ was able to recover the ball at the 50-yard line. Anthony Patritto’s 31-yard scamper was key in the drive but Reece Collins scored on a one-yard run on third-and-goal. The extra point gave Adams a 17-9 lead which held until there were 38 seconds left.
“We made some mistakes tonight but we are who we are, we had a great day,’’ Woodruff said. “I was glad we were able to fight back, we had some unfortunate things happen to us and we kept fighting and kept fighting so all the unfortunate things don’t matter right now.’’
Patritto’s Highlanders saw their three-game win streak snapped, ending the season with a 6-4 record.“I’ve been at this for a long, long time. When there’s a last game you don’t win which is for most teams most of the time, there’s no words that us grownups can give to kids who sacrifice a huge amount of their lives for the program,’’ Patritto said. “All you can do is tell them you love them and know the journey is the journey at the end of the day. They made an investment and they left it out here, they have that to be proud of.’’