Gorzinski, Raab Power Jets Into State Title Game
Click the AUDIO buttons to hear post-game interviews with Luke Gorzinski and Lane Nehring.
POWERS---The North Central Jets fell behind in their MHSAA Eight Man Division Two state semifinal game Saturday afternoon in Powers.
Then, they put up seven touchdowns before halftime.
Such is the normal life of the NCA Jets 2021 season as they rolled past the Marion Tigers, 73-8, to earn a trip to the state championship game. The Jets also beat Marion last year in the semifinals before winning the state title the next week.
“With this team, from freshmen to seniors, it really doesn’t matter about roles,” NCA quarterback Luke Gorzinski said. “We will take it as just another game. We’re on top of the world right now, but we’ve got to go to work, go to practice this week just like we have all season. And this is the big one. This is the last game for the seniors.”
When Marion scored on a 52-yard touchdown pass from Aiden McClelen-Simons to Gavin Prielipp, and McClelen-Simons ran in the two-point conversion, it gave Marion an 8-7 lead 2:27 into the game.
It was the first time all season that the Jets trailed in a football game, and only the third touchdown that the Jets starters have allowed all season long.
“Our defense has been kind of suffocating all year, and you get that early punch right away, it’s an eye-opener, Gorzinski said. “Three of those four (offensive plays for Marion) were on me.
Personally, I’m trying to lead this team, so I had to pick it up. It really brought the fire we needed right away, that spark, that led into our next offensive set.”
And indeed, Gorzinski, and Wyatt Raab both went off from there.
Gorzinski scored on a one-yard touchdown run to answer the Marion score, and then Raab broke off a 73-yard touchdown run. That was Raab’s second touchdown run of the first quarter, as he had scored on a 19-yard scamper before the Marion touchdown.
Jaden Walters made all three extra point kicks, so NCA led, 21-8, after one quarter.
In the second quarter, the NCA defense constantly stuffed the Tigers, and the offense did pretty much what it wanted to do. Gorzinski scored on touchdown runs pf 29 and four yards, then he passed to Carter Tietz for a 38-yard TD pass.
Walters had two more PAT kicks, and on the sixth touchdown, the two-point play failed, so NCA had a 41-8 lead with 5:36 left in the half.
NCA scored again before halftime, as Raab scored on a 15-yard run for his third TD of the game, and then McClelen-Simons fumbled at the NCA 35 yard-line and Alex Naser took it to the house 65 yards.
Another Jaden Walters kick put NCA in familiar territory: leading by the mercy rule at half time, this time, 55-8.
The Jets added two more touchdown runs by Raab in the second half (11 and 36 yards) and Walters kicked a 25-yard field goal to make it a 73-8 final.
Also in there, a two-point conversion pass to the big lineman, Lane Nehring.
“That’s a play we’ve had in there since the Stephenson game,” Nehring said. “But we kind of shied away from running it. I didn’t expect to get it. We didn’t practice it all week. But I was beyond happy to get a two-point conversion. It was weird. It’s not something I’m used to, having the whole crowd look at me and cheering for me.”
Raab’s rushing stat total, led by the dominating NCA offensive line, was overpowering. Raab had just ten carries in the game, but five of them went for touchdowns. He had 223 yards rushing…that’s 22.3 yards per carry.
Gorzinski completed 7-of-8 passes for 125 yards and another TD. And he had 93 yards on 15 carries, and he rushed for three touchdowns. When’s the last time he had 15 carries in a game?
“Jeez, it might have been the state championship game last year,” said Gorzinski, who rarely plays after halftime because his team is usually way ahead on the scoreboard. “And we always like sharing the ball on this team. Once in a while, if you have to get a couple more carries than usual, it’s no biggie.”
NCA had 502 yards of total offense to just 110 for Marion. NCA had 22 first downs and Marion had seven. The Jets defense forced three turnovers.
McClelen-Simons had all 110 of Marion’s yard: 56 in the air (52 on one play) and 54 on the ground.
North Central improved to 11-0 on the season, having won its second straight playoff game in Powers. And, it was the team’s last game on the home field.
“I’m gonna miss it,” said Nehring, who, other than a year away playing at Case Western Reserve in Ohio, has called the NCA Field his whole life. “I’ve been playing here since flag football in the second grade. It’s not the greatest field (conditions-wise), but its OUR field, and it’s MY field.”
NCA will face Colon in the state championship game next Saturday in the Superior Dome at Northern Michigan University. Colon rolled past AuGres-Sims, 42-6, in the other semifinal.
In that game, quarterback Simon Vinson accounted for five touchdowns. He threw TD passes of 54, 27, and 21 yards, and scored on runs of seven and 27 yards. Their kicker, Raul Fuentes-Garcia, made all five of his extra point kicks.
Tucker Lafler had 16 tackles, including 4-and-a-half tackles for loss, leading the Colon defense. He also had half of a quarterback sack.
The state championship game can be heard live on Eagle 107.3 FM and www.radioresultsnetwork.com next Saturday, starting with the pre-game show at 12:30 CT/1:30 ET. Kick-off is 1 CT/2 ET.