After a slow start and a pick me up by the defense, the Chelsea football team cruised to a 30-6 Homecoming win over Ypsilanti to remain undefeated on the season with a 6-0 overall record.
The win all but qualified the Bulldogs for the state playoffs for the 20th time in the last 21 years. In previous seasons, six wins automatically qualified teams for the playoffs. This year the MHSAA changed the playoff system and the divisions will be divided by playoff points, not just six wins.
Chelsea was without starting quarterback Kyle Knight, who was on the sideline in street clothes due to injury and Griffen Murphy started at quarterback for the Bulldogs.
After a nice completion by Murphy, the Bulldogs were forced to put, but the Chelsea defense stuffed the Grizzlies and forced a punt.
The punt was mishandled and Ypsilanti recovered at midfield, but Daniel Golding intercepted a screen pass and returned it to the Grizzlies 16. The offense struggled to move the ball and a 37-yd field goal was no good to keep the game scoreless.
The defense forced another punt and the Bulldogs avoided a disaster when the punt was again mishandled but they were able to fall on the ball after a scramble for it at their own 15.
The start of the second quarter saw the Bulldogs punt once again and the Grizzlies got a nice return into Chelsea territory, but it was called back due to a blindside block.
After a pair of punts, the Chelsea defense turned the game around.
Ypsilanti took over at their own 29 following a punt when Sam Michael picked off a pass for the Bulldogs and returned it to the Grizzlies 28.
The first play after the Michael INT, Brennan Van Riper broke through the line and scored from 28 yards out to make it 7-0.
Ypsilanti’s turned the ball over on the next possession with a fumble recovered by Joe Taylor at the 22-yard line. The next play Murphy hit Ross Stofflet with a nice pass and catch in the corner of the endzone for a 22-yd scoring pass and a 14-0 lead.
The Bulldogs had one more chance at the end of the half, but a 34-yd field goal was wide left.
Van Riper scored his second of the game with 2:36 left in the third quarter, this time from three yards out to extend the Chelsea lead to 21-0.
Early in the fourth, Van Riper made it three scores on the night when he broke free from 43 yards out to make it 28-0.
The Bulldogs wrapped up their scoring when Hunter Berrien tackled the Ypsilanti quarterback in the end zone after a fumbled snap for a safety to make it 30-0.
The Grizzlies would score with a TD run in the final two minutes to make the final 30-6.
In his first start at quarterback, Murphy finished 10 of 19 passing for 111 yards and a touchdown. His favorite target was Tyler Valik who caught six passes for 43 yards.
Stofflet caught two passes for 27 yards and a score, Mitchell Reynolds one for 23 and Joe Taylor one for 18.
Van Riper led the team in rushing with 93 yards on seven carries and the three touchdowns. Cole Munson had 32 yards on six carries and Reynolds 24 on three carries.
The vaunted Bulldog defense held Ypsilanti to just 150 yards in total offense, 77 of which came in the Grizzlies final drive with the game in hand.
Gabe Vowels was in on nine total tackles to lead the defense. Berrien was in on eight, including the safety in the endzone and a quarterback sack. Michael was in on seven tackles and the interception that got the Bulldogs rolling, while Chase Kemp and Carson Gray were in on five apiece.
The Bulldogs will host Adrian Friday night at 7:00 in the final home regular-season game for Chelsea.