Jets blast into state finals

After trailing early, North Central routs Marion, 73-8

(Matt McCarthy/Daily News photos) North Central junior quarterback Luke Gorzinski (11) looks for a receiver as senior teammate Wyatt Raab (17) provides protection in the first half of an MHSAA Division 2 8-player state semifinal game Saturday versus Marion at North Central High School in Powers. Raab and Gorzinski combined for nine touchdowns in the Jets’ 73-8 win.

POWERS — Top-ranked North Central took a punch in the mouth early, but adjusted quickly in a 73-8 eight-player football rout of Marion in a Division 2 state semifinal game here Saturday.

The victory sends the Jets (12-0) to the state championship contest at Northern Michigan University’s Superior Central where they’ll meet Colon (11-1) Saturday at 2 p.m. Eastern time. The Eagles finished 10-2.

North Central trailed for the first time all season prior to senior quarterback Luke Gorzinski’s one-yard run touchdown run up the middle for a 14-8 lead with 4:22 left in the first quarter.

“That’s our mindset,” Gorzinski said. “We respond to every punch. It took us a little while to adjust to what they were doing. Everybody has the same goal. Hats off the coach Jon (Gorzinski). He moved some guys around. You do what you have to do.”

The Jets started their first possession on the Eagles’ 25-yard line and needed just two plays to take a 7-0 lead on senior Wyatt Raab’s 19-yard run around left end.

Marion’s Gavin Prielipp (20) tries to wrangle North Central senior Alex Naser (88) to the ground in Saturday’s MHSAA Division 2 8-player state semifinal game in Powers.

Marion responded quickly, moving 75 yards on just four plays and taking its only lead on junior QB Mason Salisbury’s 52-yard aerial through the middle to sophomore Gavin Prielipp on its opening drive.

“They absolutely put together a good game plan,” said Jets’ coach Leo Gorzinski. “They executed well and were ready to play. They were running things we’ve seen all season, but we got a little greedy and lacked communication early. Our defense has been outstanding all season long. What you want to see the guys do in that situation is respond and they did it with flying colors. Sometimes you need a little kick in the pants to get them started again.”

The Jets extended their lead to 21-8 on Raab’s 74-yard dash along the left sideline with 1:37 remaining in the opening frame.

Luke Gorzinski scored on a 29-yard keeper around left end and a four-yard TD run up the middle for a 35-8 cushion, then tossed a 37-yard TD pass to junior tight end Owen Eichmeier for a 41-8 advantage midway through the second.

Raab made it 48-8 when he took an inside handoff and dashed 15 yards for another score.

Senior Alex Naser then gave the Jets a 55-8 cushion when he recovered a fumble and returned it 66 yards on the final play of the first half.

In the second half. Luke Gorzinski ran for an 11-yard score and Raab added a 36-yard TD run.

Junior kicker Jaden Walters scored 11 points on eight extra points and a 25-yard field goal.

The Jets collected 502 yards in total offense, with Raab rushing for 223 and five TDs on 10 carries.

Luke Gorzinski was 7-of-8 passing for 125 and a TD and ran 15 times for 93 yards and three scores. Five of his aerials went to Naser for 60 and senior tackle Lane Nehring caught a conversion pass.

“That was exciting,” said Nehring. “We put that play in about week one or two, but hadn’t run it all year. The team called on me to do it, and I did my job. When we got down right away, I told the guys to stay calm and it would work out. We hadn’t been behind all year. That’s not our thing. Once we got ahead by a couple scores we started to notice their morale going down and they lost some of their chemistry. We moved our linebackers outside. We adjusted to their jet sweep and got the job done.”

North Central ran for 352 and passed for 150. The Jets had 22 first downs.

Marion was limited to 110 yards in total offense and seven first downs.

“I thought we matched up all right, but we were concerned about their big play ability,” said Marion coach Chad Gundy. “Number 17 (Raab) and 88 (Naser) killed us all day. Those are two good players. It was hard to bottle up all their speed. We came out and played hard the whole game. We’re going to keep working to get better.”

Defensively, Luke Gorzinski tallied 6 1/2 tackles and an interception. Eichmeier added five tackles and junior Drew Webber had four.

“We appreciate having all the fans here to support us and the Wells (Hannahville Ice & Turf) complex for letting us work out inside,” said coach Gorzinski. “I can’t wait to get my hands on some film, see what they’re doing and get ready for them (Colon).”

Marion 8 0 0 0 — 8

N. Central 21 34 8 10 — 73

1st Quarter

NC – Wyatt Raab 19 yard run, (Jaden Walters kick), 11:25

M – Aiden McClelen-Simons 52 yard pass to Gavin Prielipp, (McClelen-Simons run), 9:33

NC – Luke Gorzinski 1-yard run, (Walters kick), 4:22

NC – Raab 73 yard run, (Walters kick), 1:37

2nd Quarter

NC – Luke Gorzinski 29 yard Run, (Walters kick), 11:10

NC – Luke Gorzinski 4-yard run, (Walters kick), 8:20

NC – Luke Gorzinski 38 yard pass to Carter Tietz, (pass failed), 5:36

NC – Raab 15 yard run, (Walters kick), 1:32

NC – Alex Naser 66 yard fumble return, (Walters kick) 0:00

3rd Quarter

NC – Raab 11 yard run, (Luke Gorzinski pass to Lane Nehring), 9:45

4th Quarter

NC- Walters 25 yard field goal, 11:31

NC – Raab 36 yard run, (Walters kick), 5:00


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