Defensive Stand Sends Chelsea Football to Ford Field

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Another heart stopping ending for the Chelsea football team Saturday as it took a goal line stand in the final minute to lift the Bulldogs past Freeland 30-27 and send Chelsea to Ford Field next Friday for the Division 4 state championship game.

Freeland forced a Bulldog punt and took over at its own 38 with 4:37 left.

The Falcons would drive to the Bulldogs 11 with a first down. After two runs Freeland faced third and four from the Chelsea five. The Falcon quarterback had trouble with the snap and fell on the ball forcing a fourth and three from the four.

Instead of attempting a game tying field goal, the Falcons went for it. Freeland attempted a quarterback run to the right, but Chelsea linebacker Nolan Sinkwitts stuffed the lead blocker in the hole, Liam Conti came in to help and the rest of the Chelsea defense swarmed in to stop the quarterback inches short of the first down. The Falcons had scored two touchdowns earlier in the game running the same play.

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Chelsea ran two quarterback sneaks to force Freeland timeouts and took a knee one final time to run out the clock as the Bulldogs swarmed the field to celebrate.

The Bulldogs took the opening kickoff and were forced to punt after three plays and Freeland took over with good field position.

The Falcons drove inside the Bulldogs 30 but fumbled the ball on a handoff and it was recovered by Jayden Woody.

The Chelsea defense celebrates a fumble recovery by Jayden Woody

Chelsea would drive down and scored on a two-yard run by Trent Hill. The extra point hit the goal post to give Chelsea a 6-0 lead after one quarter.

The Falcons answered with another long drive of 14 plays and scored on a 5-yard TD run to take a 7-6 lead.

The Bulldogs got a break when Lucas Dunn hit Lucas Hanifan with a 32-yard pass to the Freeland two, but the ball was fumbled into the endzone and the Bulldogs Ben Strzyzewski fell on the ball for a touchdown to give Chelsea a 13-7 lead.

Freeland again went on a long drive of 12 plays and 72 yards to take a 14-13 lead with a two-yard TD run with 23.7 left in the half.

After the kickoff the Falcons were called for roughing the passer to move the ball to the Freeland 46. Dunn hit Nick Fisk for 14 yards to the 32 and then hit Cole Munson for 17 yards to the 15 with four second left.

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Hunter Shaw nailed a 32-yard field goal to give Chelsea a 16-14 lead at the half. It was the second week in a row that the Bulldogs drove down the field in the final 30 seconds and Shaw kicked a field goal o the final play of the half.

Freeland took the opening kickoff of the second half and appeared to pick up a first down on a completion on third and nine but was called for holding to make it third and 23 and were forced to punt.

Following the punt, the Bulldogs would drive and Dunn hit Fisk with a 15-yard TD pass to push the lead to 23-14 after three quarters.

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Freeland struck quickly with a 79-yard scoring pass and the two-point conversion failed and Chelsea led 23-20.

Chelsea had another answer when Dunn connected with Fisk for a 23-yard scoring strike to push the lead to 30-20 but Freeland wasn’t done.

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The Falcons connected for a 44-yard scoring pass to cut the lead to 30-27 with 6:24 left.

Hill returned the kickoff to near midfield, but the Bulldogs could not move the ball and were forced to punt setting up the nerve-racking final four minutes.

Freeland outgained the Bulldogs in total yards 422-327 including 241-126 on the ground.

Dunn finished 13 of 18 passing for 201 yards and two TD’s. Hanifan caught five passes for 118 yards, while Fisk caught four passes for 56 yards and two TD’s. Hill finished with 90 yards rushing on 14 carries and a touchdown.

The Bulldogs improved to 13-0 on the season. The first Chelsea team to record 13 wins in a single season.

Talking to the team after the game coach Josh Lucas stated “Thirteen wins is a helluva deal, but we want one more. We want 14.”

The Bulldogs will face a strong Hudsonville Unity Christian team in the D4 state finals Friday night at 7:30 PM. Unity Christian is averaging over 64 points a game in the four playoff games including a 58-8 win over Edwardsburg in the state semifinals Saturday. The Crusaders have outscored their four playoff opponents 257- 51 and they are just 23 points away from setting the MHSAA record for points in a season.

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