high school football: Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard beats Lake Fenton 42-39 in season opener
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com
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LINDEN -- Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard High School quarterback Joe Kendzicky threw touchdown passes of 19, 33 and 5 yards and ran for another to lead the Fighting Irish to a 42-39 road win over Lake Fenton on Thursday.
Kendzicky finished the night 12-of-20 for 240 yards.
Lake Fenton running backs Zac Zielinski and Nick VanDuser each rushed for a pair of touchdowns in a losing effort as the Blue Devils (0-1) fell to the Fighting Irish (1-0) in the season opener for the third straight year.
Trailing 35-32 with just under six minutes remaining in the game, Lake Fenton took a gamble and tried to convert a fourth-and-seven at midfield. Gabriel Richard broke up a pass attempt and Ashton Hundley scored on a 50-yard run on the ensuing play from scrimmage to make the game a two-score contest for the first time all night.
Hundley was dangerous rushing and receiving out of the backfield in the first half and early in the third quarter, but was hindered by a strained muscle and cramp for most of the second half.
More coverage: Boxscore at MLive.com
He fought through the pain for the run that would prove to be the difference in the game.
“I didn’t want to let my team down," Hundley said. "So through injury I don’t think about it because I just wanted to win this game.”
“To be honest, it was a busted play, there was some confusion up front, but Austin’s a playmaker,” said Father Gabriel Richard coach Brian Lemons. “When he’s healthy, fully healthy, he can make people miss, I mean he’s pretty darn good.”
Hundley finished with 20 carries for 173 yards and two receptions for 56 yards.
Austin Frank scored on a touchdown pass from Gage Smith for Lake Fenton with 1.9 seconds remaining, but Gabriel Richard recovered the ensuing onside kick to end the game.
“I think it shows a lot of the character of my guys to score late like that,” said Lake Fenton coach Eric Doyle.
VanDuser finished the game with 208 yards on 23 attempts, but was limited to just 48 yards on nine carries in the second half. The Blue Devils struggled late in the fourth quarter when the run-first team faced the two-score deficit.
“We want to throw the ball when we want to and not when we have to and when you fall behind by ten, you kind of have to,” Doyle said. “It’s hard to throw the ball when you’re down and they know you’re going to throw it.”
Smith finished 5-of-10 for 75 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
Both offenses went crazy in the second quarter, scoring 39 combined points and Richard took a 27-26 lead into the half. Three touchdowns were scored in the final three minutes of the half and defensive stops were at a premium.
“We have a lot of young kids at linebacker and that’s the first live action that they’ve had at a varsity level,” Lemons said. “Everything else is nice and experienced we switched up a couple things in the second half.”
Doyle said he sensed the Blue Devils’ offensive production in the first half was too good to be true.
“You know it’s not going to be as easy to move the ball as it was in the first half, especially against a good football team,” Doyle said.
Six different receivers caught passes from Kendzicky, including Ann Arbor Huron transfer Blaise Sterns who had three catches for 76 yards.
Sterns caught his first touchdown pass in a Gabriel Richard uniform on a fourth down play from the 5-yard line to put Richard up for good in the third quarter.
“We just try to spread it out,” Lemons said. “As soon as they key in on one guy, like they went after Blaise, we switched over to (Steve) Tracy, as soon as they went to Tracy, we came into Ashton then we hit a couple tight ends.
"Just trying not to be as predictable target wise.”