By Mike Williamson – firstname.lastname@example.org
While the final score may not indicate a blow-out, the Saline football team dominated in its Division 1 playoff opener against Kalamazoo Central Saturday as the Hornets advanced to the district finals with a 26-7 win over the Giants.
The Hornet defense stifled the K-Central offense, allowing just 147 total yards.
The Giants never threatened to score on offense and the lone score came on a long fumble return in the fourth quarter that made things interesting for a few moments.
The Saline defense forced a punt to start the game and took over near midfield. It took just four plays for the Hornets to reach pay-dirt when Brendan Munday scored from three yards out for a quick 7-0 lead with 9:07 left in the first.
The defense forced another Giants punt and this time Hayden Scott broke through the line and blocked the punt. The ball bounced toward the goal line where Scott tried to dive on it, but it squirted into the end zone. A K-Central player picked up the ball and ran out the back of the end zone and after a lengthy discussion by the officials, it was ruled a safety for a 9-0 lead.
Saline took the free kick and drove into Giants territory, but the drive stalled, and JT Turner nailed a 25-yard field goal to make it 12-0 after one quarter.
The Hornets lead grew to 19-0 in the second when Andrew Arbaugh hit Grant Sitterly with 30-yd TD pass with 8:03 left in the half.
Saline drove deep into Giants territory late in the half but turned the ball over with a fumble in the final minute to make it 19-0 at the half.
Neither team did much in the third quarter as both defenses shut the offenses down.
K-Central made it a little interesting midway through the fourth, returning a fumble 57-yards for a score to make it 19-7, but the Hornets sealed the win with a five-yard touchdown run by Scott.
Arbaugh was 16-20 for 117 yds and a score for the Hornets.
MJ Griffin caught four passes for 76 yards, while Trevor Arico caught two for 34. Sitterly caught the one pass for the 30-yd TD, Kolton Malinczak three for 11, and Munday two for 11.
Munday rushed for 136 yards and a score on 27 carries. Scott added 18 yards on four carries.
Brad Wiskiewski was again a force on defense with seven solo tackles, three assists, and two sacks. Alex Morrison added seven solo and two assists and Connor Terech six solo and one assist.
The Hornets will host East Kentwood in the Division 1 District Final Saturday at 1:00 PM.
Pictures by Mike Williamson