In the wild kingdom, when zebras cross paths with hungry wildcats, a grisly scene usually unfolds.
Kind of like the one that unfolded on the P-CEP varsity football field Friday night.
Plymouth's Wildcats, motivated partly by the lingering sting of a last-minute loss to Howell last week, mauled the Wayne Memorial Zebras, 68-20, in a game that was close for about two minutes.
Plymouth improved to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the KLAA South Division. The Zebras dropped to 0-3 and 0-1, respectively.
(To view a video clip of Friday night's game, click on:
The Wildcats' defense forced four first-half turnovers to spark the onslaught, including a fumble that was scooped up by junior linebacker Tyler Goble and returned 55 yards.
A penalty brought back Goble's slick return that included a couple of running back-esque jukes, but it couldn't slow down the Wildcats' momentum.
"Everybody on the field for our defense is fast, so we swarm tackle well," said Goble, when asked about what he likes about the 'Cats' defense.
Goble said the Wildcats entered Friday's game with a little extra fire following last week's tough loss to Howell, which scored twice in the final three minutes.
"(Last week's loss) might have been a blessing in disguise," said Goble. "It got everybody focused and level-headed. We had probably our best week of practice all season this week."
It showed, especially in the game's first seven minutes when the Wildcats surged to a 20-0 advantage.
Plymouth scored on the the game's fourth play -- a 44-yard hook-up between junior quarterback Shaun Austin and senior receiver Michael Olevnik.
Four plays later, Wayne coughed up its first of five turnovers -- a fumble that was recovered by Faris Abraham at the Wayne 31.
It took Plymouth just three plays to capitalize as they scored on Austin's 6-yard keeper to go up 14-0.
Following a Wayne three-and-out, Plymouth punched in another TD, this one courtesy of fleet-footed Jerel Jenkins, who sprinted 16 yards to paydirt to make it 20-0. Kyle Brindza's extra point was blocked, but nearly still made it through the up-rights, banging off the cross-bar.
Jenkins had a huge night, rushing for 88 yards and two TD's on eight carries.
"We challenged him this week," Sawchuk said. "He banged himself up a little bit in the last game and again in practice this week. We challenged him to run hard. We said, 'It's your game.' I think he embraced the challenge. He's really explosive."
The Zebras' second fumble of the night -- this one recovered by Phil Emminger -- set up Brindza's 44-yard field goal, upping the lead to 23-0.
The Wildcats' next possession, which was set up by -- you guessed it -- another fumble, led to a slick 38-yard TD strike from Austin to Brennen Beyer (see video).
Plymouth boosted its lead to 37-0 with 3:34 left in the half on a 5-yard TD spring by Donte Fox. The seven-play, 46-yard drive followed Brandon Landers' fumble recovery.
After Wayne sliced its deficit to 37-7 on a Dean Caldwell-to-Brett McMasters TD pass, Brindza capped the Wildcats' final first-half drive with a 22-yard field goal.
Wayne came out firing in the third quarter when Caldwell hit a streaking Keith Greer with a perfect spiral down the left sideline. Greer barely outran the Plymouth secondary -- he was tripped up while holding up his index finger as he crossed the goal line -- to cap an 80-yard score.
Plymouth's offense continued to churn in the second half, receiving touchdown runs from Jenkins (16 yards), Fox (14 yards) and a 15-yard TD pass from Victor Hicks to Adedamola Adebiyi.
Probably the most electric play of the night came from the do-everything Hicks, who fielded a squib kick at his own 28 before zigging and zagging 72 yards through the Zebras' defense to cap the night's scoring.
Hicks executed a breath-taking play moments earlier when, while playing quarterback in the Wildcats' Wildcat offense, he chased down a shotgun snap that had sailed over his head and raced 26 yards for an unorthodox first down.
Austin had a stellar night, completing 10 of 17 passes for 184 yards and two TD's.
Hicks picked up 83 yards on seven carries, threw a touchdown pass and ran back a kick-off for a score.
The Wildcats outgained the Zebras, 426-305, in total yards.
Ed Wright can be reached at (734) 453-1980 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Plymouth's DeAngelo Barrow hauls down a Wayne offensive lineman after the lineman scoop up a fumble. (Ed Wright photo)
Jerel Jenkins breaks loose on a long run. (Ed Wright photo)
Victor Hicks runs to daylight through a huge hole created by Cody Ignagni (62).
Mike Olevnik (18) helps clear a path for
Jerel Jenkins. (Ed Wright photo)
Tyler Goble (54) and Phil Schultz (42) crunch a Zebra ball carrier. (Ed Wright photo)