Friday night, Plymouth football coach Mike Sawchuk was instructing his
ecstatic players to move back off the field after Alex Ruffin had
apparently made a game-saving block of a Westland John Glenn field goal.
The next second, Sawchuk was watching the Rockets celebrate in the end zone with the scoreboard reading: John Glenn 33, Plymouth 28.
What transpired just before both teams' celebrations will serve as grounds for an official protest by the Wildcats to the Michigan High School Athletic Association.
With Plymouth leading 28-27 and eight seconds left, the Rockets lined up for a potential game-winning field goal. However, Ruffin (and possibly Tony Rhodes) blocked the kick backwards and into the hands of the Rockets' holder.
"The holder grabbed the ball while his knee was on the ground and the whistle blew," said Sawchuk, who emphasized that the game film confirms his take on the play. "The holder sits there for a second holding the ball, then he stands up and looks at the kicker like, 'We just lost'.
"I yelled 'Victory!', turned my back to the field for one second, telling my players on the sideline to get back, and when I turned back around, their entire team is celebrating in the end zone. It was the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen in my life."
Whether or not the appeal is successful, Sawchuk said his players can learn a valuable life lesson from the incident.
"Everybody has to deal with adversity in life, whether it be at work, in school or in relationships," he said. "I always tell the kids that things aren't always going to go their way. All you can do is go back to work, which is what we're going to do."
If Friday's 33-28 John Glenn victory stands, Plymouth will drop to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association's South Division.
"Our schedule doesn't get any easier," Sawchuk said. "We have a very good Franklin team next week, then the cross-over and then Adrian."
Before the game became blanketed by the controversial ending, it belonged to Plymouth junior quarterback Vic Hicks, who completed 10 of 13 passes for 270 yards and three touchdowns -- two to junior wide out Brennen Beyer and one to junior wide out Jake Morris.
Hicks also ran for a score.
"I couldn't be more proud of a group of kids than I am right now," Sawchuk said. "Time after time tonight, they were so resilient when they absolutely had to be."
Ed Wright can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org or (734) 453-1980.