October 30, 2011
Sports Article 6410

Western Warriors Chris Baba and Carl Pajot congratulate QB Austin Pichiotino on the 2nd half score. Pichiotino ran for 180 yards & passed for 198 more for 378 yards total offense.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Touchdown in Last Minute Ends Western's Comeback and Season

Okemos hangs on for 46-43 win.

October 30, 2011
By: John Keuvelaar

It was a wild one in the Corn Field of Western High School. These were two teams with mirror image offenses going at each other all night in an explosive high scoring contest. A couple Okemos miscues in the first half helped keep Western in the game. Then the Warriors took over the second half eventually taking the lead with just over three minutes to play. But it was the inability to stop the Okemos rushing attack as they hammered at the middle of the Warrior defense chewing up the clock and marching down field. The Chiefs scored with 48 seconds to play to retake the lead. Western valiantly tried to work their way down field before a Hail Mary pass fell short to give Okemos a 46-43 win.

After a good kickoff return gave the Chief's good field position on their 41, Okemos began marching downfield. Using the spread offense, quarterback Jonny Bolas peeled off a 23 yard gain to the Western 33. But on the next play, a fumble was recovered by Western's Andrew Mudd and Western was in position to go on the attack.

Using a type of flanker screen by throwing to one of their three receivers on a side, the receiver would follow the blocking of his receivers for good gains. Sprinkling in some option keeps by Western QB Austin Pichiotino, the Warriors went on a march of their own. But the Okemos defense held at their 26 yard line and took over on downs.

The Chief's stuck quick and hard on their next possession. After a pitch on an option netted 18 yards, Bolas hit wide out Brycen Sorber on a short post pattern that split the two Warrior defenders for a 57 yard scoring play. With the kick it was Ogemaw up 7-0.

On the ensuing kickoff, Western's Charles Proctor symbolized the kind of determination the two teams put forth on the field all night. Proctor caught the ball on the right side of the field. He found a seam in the middle that took him to his left where he raced down the sidelines. His teammates kept racing down throwing blocks allowing him to weave back toward the middle of the field keeping everyone on edge waiting for the eventual breakaway for a touchdown. He was finally caught from behind but not until he reached the Okemos 28. A blocking from behind penalty moved the ball back to the Western 46.

Western started moving down the field before a pass glanced off the fingers of a receiver and Okemos' Alex Bez made a diving interception at the Chief's 25. On the very next play, powerful running back Ian Horne took the ball off tackle and raced 75 yards for an Okemos score making it 14-0.

Having been kicked in the teeth on two big plays, Western came right back at Okemos. Starting with good field position on their 38, Pichiotino got the Warriors marching again. A 19 yard strike to Tyler Kuch and an interference call on a pass to Nick Vachon put the ball on the Okemos 13. On the legs of Pichiotino, the Warriors moved to the one as the quarter ended. They finished off the scoring drive to start the second quarter with a one yard run by Pichiotino and with the Mason Myers kick, it was 14-7.

Okemos came right back with a sustained drive. Using the option to perfection, they drove down field on the running of QB Bolas and Horne. It was Horne that would score from 6 yards out to put the Chiefs up 21-7.

After another big return by Proctor, Western started on their 47. It was the Okemos front line that did the damage this time. The bigger size and just as quick feet kept Pichiotino from effectively seeing down field knocking down a few passes all night. But it was a 14 yard loss on a sack that stopped the Warriors forcing a punt.

Western got their first big scoring break of the game here. A fumble was recovered by Proctor and Western was back in business. Pichiotino went off tackle to break it down to the five yard line. Then faking an up the middle run, he stepped back ala Tebow and fired a bullet to Proctor who went horizontal on a diving catch to narrow the margin to 21-14. As the game went all night, Okemos struck right back, this time through the air. Bolas got it going taking a QB draw 27 yards. Then Bolas, known more for his rushing, faked left and threw right to his favorite target, Sorber, putting the ball on the Western 28. Bolas went back to Sorber again throwing a beautiful touch pass over the outside shoulder of the heavily defended Sorber at the Western 6. Then Bolas rolled right finding Sorber in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. A penalty on the kick moved the ball to the one and a half yard line allowing Okemos to take advantage and punch it in for two points making it 29-14 at the half.

Mason Myers breaks a tackle.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

A pass down the middle falls incomplete as all look on.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Spencer Bonofiglio races around right end pursued by Chris Talaga and Joe Ivan.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Chris Ivan hauls down a Chief.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

So many Chiefs can't stop this Warrior as Charles Proctor eludes them on a great kickoff return.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Tyler Kuch is mauled by a Chief after the catch.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

It was a fiercy battle in the trenches as evidenced by Western's Jon Metz and Henry Pfundt.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Mason Myers boots the extra point.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

QB Jonny Bolas is corralled by Charles Proctor and Andrew Mudd.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Western took the second half kickoff and went to their pitch and catch side pass game. While they moved the ball, they were forced to punt with the ball being caught on the 5 yard line. Western's defense held and on third down, they foiled the Chief's long pass thoughts with good coverage and forced Bolas to run. Disaster for Okemos almost happened when Bolas twisted his knee going down. But the gutsy QB refused to stay down and continued to play although this altered the Okemos offense slightly the rest of the way some.

After a good return by Kuch to Okemos 36, Pichiotino ran and passed the Warrior offense down field before running it in on a "not to be denied" 1 yard run making it 29-21.

As they had all night, Okemos moved the ball down field again. Aided by a long pass set up by a scramble, Okemos was poised to score again. But the Warrior defense came up big forcing a Doug Kim 32 yard field goal and a 32-21 lead going into the fourth quarter.

As he had all night, Charles Proctor came up big for Western on their next possession. First he took a swing pass and ran 9 yards. A hitting out of bounds penalty tacked on 15 more yards to the play. Moments later, Pichiotino rolled to his left and hit Proctor down the sidelines. The junior receiver went airborne again for a beautiful diving catch at the 19. On third down at the five, Proctor went in motion crossing the field then slipped just inside the goal line for a touchdown pass. Going for two points, Pichiotino threw a fade pass into the end zone to Chris Baba. The senior receiver out jumped his tightly guarded defender for the conversion narrowing the margin to 32-29.

Okemos would not be fazed. Looking to grind time off the clock, they turned to their power running of Horne. Pounding him in the middle of the Warrior defense, they piece by piece, moved the ball down field. Aided by a pass interference penalty, Okemos finally scored when Bolas hit Sorber on a 17 yard back side post pattern making it 39-29.

Things looked bleak for the Warriors. A missed handled kickoff and a dropped snap had the Warriors in trouble. Then Pichiotino kept scrambling until he found Vachon down the sidelines for a 12 yard reception and a first down. A swing pass to Baba, a short out to Kuch and the Warriors appeared to be rolling. But soon, they were on life support as an incompletion, a batted down pass and a slip and fall by a receiver had them fourth and 10. Then the Warrior line gave Pichiotino plenty of time to scan the field were he found Chris Baba over the middle at the 6 and Western's hopes were still alive. From there Pichiotino took it in and just like that it was 39-36.

Taking a page from last weeks Central contest, the Warriors executed an onside kick to perfection recovering the ball at midfield. Needing to not only score but take as much time off the clock as possible, Western turned to the run. Running to their right, the Western offense pounded the Okemos left side as Pichiotino moved the ball to the 30, then 24 and after a late hit, to the 12. In total "We are not done yet" determination, Pichiotino took the ball off right tackle and raced into the end zone putting the Warriors up 43-39.

While the score put the Warriors on top, they had left too much time on the clock to hold off Okemos. With just over three minutes to play, Okemos pounded between the tackles and moved the football. Aided by a pass interference, they were on Western's 20 with 1:34 on the clock. Rushing to the 11 yard line with 53 seconds to play, Horne powered off the left side, breaking tackles and bulldozing his way into the end zone with 48 ticks on the clock leading 46-43.

Western was not done yet, when two out patterns and a screen pass left them at fourth down and 4 with 21 seconds to play, Pichiotino kept them alive. Finding no open receivers deep, he took off running the ball to the Okemos 35 yard line. With ten seconds left, he looked deep again but was sacked. Then with three seconds, it was the Hail Mary pass. Unfortunately for the Warriors, they didn't have the same luck as MSU had and the pass pinballed off several receivers and defenders before it hit the turf ending the hopes and season for Western.

It was a well played gutsy performance by both teams. While Western no doubt was disappointed in the loss, they will soon take pride in the determination and the way they fought back to be within a breath of victory.

While there were outstanding efforts by everyone, statistically the Western offense was lead by Austin Pichiotino who ran for 180 yards on 36 carries to go with his 21 for 36 throwing for 198 yards or 378 yards of total offense. Charles Proctor had 8 catches for 69 yards and 2 TDs with Nick Vachon hauling in 3 balls for 54 yards, Tyler Kuch had 6 receptions for 69 yards and Chris Baba grabbed three balls for 31 yards and a key two point conversion.

Okemos was lead by quarterback Jonny Bolas. He was a perfect 6 for 6 passing for 160 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 120 yards on 17 carries. Brycen Sorber caught 5 of those balls for 135 yards while Ian Horne ran for 184 yards on 18 carries.

It was a great season for the Warriors who battled for a 7-3 record while treating their fans with some excellent football efforts.

Brycen Sorber catches a touchdown pass in the back of the end zone.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Austin Bauer brings down the Chief with some help.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Austin Pichiotino finds the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Cameron Roth grabs a hold of Jonny Bolas.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Chris Baba fights for yardage down the sidelines.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Austin Pichiotino fires a pass to the outside receiver as Henry Pfundt protects his passer.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Austin Pichiotino keeps the Western hopes alive as he runs to the Okemoas 35 with 10 seconds to play.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

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