Bulldogs Claim Third Straight District Title
The old saying is that defense wins titles and if Friday nights game is any indication of that, then the Chelsea football team could be in for a special season.
The Bulldogs defense smothered state power Birmingham Brother Rice on its way to a 23-0 win, giving Chelsea its third straight district championship.
The defense held Rice to just 150 total yards, 89 of which came on two drives. The Bulldogs forced Rice to eight drives of three plays or less and held them to just nine total yards rushing on the night. Chelsea recorded five quarterback sacks for -29 yards and forced a huge fumble that led to a short touchdown drive for the offense.
The Bulldogs showed from the opening kickoff that they were not scared of sixth-ranked Brother Rice.
Chelsea drove 71 yards in seven play and scored on a four-yard swing pass from Griffen Murphy to Trent Hill. Nick Fisk's extra point made it 7-0 with just over eight minutes to go in the first. The big play of the drive was a 42-yard pass from Murphy to Joe Taylor to set up the Hill touchdown reception.
The teams then traded punts and Brother Rice took over at their own 38 and went on an eight play drive that took them to the Chelsea 12. A big sack by Jayden Woody moved Rice back and a pass completion was stopped short of the marker to turn the ball over on downs at the 12.
Little did everyone know, this would be Brother Rices' best drive of the night.
Neither offense could do much after that until under six minutes left in the second Rice took over at its own 23 after a punt. On the first play, Carson Gray got to the quarterback and knocked the ball free and Hunter Berrien picked the ball up and ran it six yards to the four yard line. Two plays later Hill busted across from the one and a Fisk kick made it 14-0 Bulldogs.
It stayed this way until the half and the Bulldogs defense forced a three and out to star the second half.
Following the punt, Chelsea took over at its own 42 and used a grind it out ground game to drive to the Rice 26. Murphy then hit Taylor with a crossing pass and Taylor did the rest, beating a pair of Rice defenders to the endzone for 26-yard score. The Bulldogs were accessed an unsportsmanlike penalty forcing a long extra point attempt, which was wide to make it.
Rice again could get nothing going offensively with another three and out and the Bulldogs then went on a game ending drive that lasted over six minutes and ended with a 23-yard field goal by Fisk to make it 23-0 early in the fourth.
The Chelsea defense continued to slam the door on Rice, until the final drive in which Rice would move the ball 39 yards before being forced to punt one last time.
The Bulldogs had just 220 yards in total offense, with 197 of that came on three long clock moving scoring drives that ate up over 15 minutes off the game clock.
Murphy was 5-7 passing for 90 yards and two scores and rushed for 27 yards.
Hill rushed for 73 yards and a score and caught one for four yards and a score. Taylor caught two passes for 68 yard and a score and rushed for 13 yards. Cole Munson rushed for 21 yards and caught one pass for 11 yards, while Fisk caught one pass for seven yards.
Ben Strzyzewski, Gray, Chase Kemp, and Corbin Steele were in on six tackles each to lead the Bulldogs defense.
The Bulldogs improved to 9-0 on the season. They will host Flint Kearsley (6-3) in the Regional Finals Friday night with a possible rematch looming with River Rouge in the semifinals Thanksgiving weekend should both teams win this week. Rouge, the defending state champs, ended the Bulldogs season last year in semifinals with a 14-7 win.
Photos by Mike Williamson