The Saline football team had top five ranked Clinton Township Chippewa Valley on the ropes early but could not close it out as the Hornets fell 31-26 in the season opener Thursday, August 23.
After forcing a turnover on downs near midfield the Hornets took an early lead as Brendan Munday punched it into the endzone from a yard out for a 7-0 lead.
The defense forced a three and out and a bad punt gave the Hornets great field position at the Chippewa Valley 37. They reached the five-yard line but could not punch it in and made it 10-0 on a 26-yard field goal by James Turner.
Following another three and out, the Hornets again took over with good field position. Andrew Arbaugh hit Kolton Malinczak with a pass down the middle where he broke a couple of tackles before being hauled down at the four-yard line.
Again, the Hornets could not punch it in and settled for a 29-yard field by Turner for a 13-0 lead after one.
Chippewa Valley’s offense came to life after that. The Big Reds drove 69 yards and scored on a nine-yard run to cut the Hornet lead to 13-7
Saline quickly answered when Hayden Scott ran it in from four yards out to make it 19-7.
The Big Reds struck with 33 seconds left in the half connecting on a 29-yard scoring pass to cut the Hornet lead to 19-14 at the break.
Saline got the ball to start the second half but fumbled on the first play and Chippewa Valley kicked a 35-yard field goal to make it 19-17 early in the third.
The Hornets were forced to punt, and Chippewa Valley struck quickly with a 41-yard run and a 35-yard scoring pass to take the lead for the first time 24-19.
After another defensive stop Chippewa Valley broke a 36-yard run to the two-yard line as the third quarter expired and punched it across to start the fourth and extend its lead to 31-19.
Saline did not quit and scored on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Arbaugh to Brendan Murphy to cut the lead to 31-26, but they would not get another chance as Chippewa Valley was able to pick up a pair of first downs and run out the clock for the win.
The Hornets could not get much going on the ground, gaining just 21 yards on 18 carries. They were outgained 392-304 in the contest.
Arbaugh was 22-38 passing for 283 yards and a score. Malinczak caught seven passes for 77 yards, Munday five for 67, Murphy four for 59, MJ Griffin five for 54, and Joel Klomega one for 26.
Alex Morrison led the defense with 10 solo tackles, while Brad Wisniewski had five solo, three assists, and one sack.
The Hornets return to action Friday night when they host defending Division 4 State Champion Grand Rapids Catholic Central at 7:00 PM.