FOOTBALL: Saline Defeats Ypsilanti on a Very Different Opening Night at Hornet Stadium
As Friday nights go, it was a different experience as the Saline Football team opened the 2020 season at Hornet Stadium with a 33-7 victory over Ypsilanti.
Some of the changes were stark. There was no student section to cheer on the Hornets. The north end zone was quieter without 200 members of the marching band screaming to distract the opposition. There was no half-time show. Everyone wore masks. And the referees refused to pick up the football.
But there was one thing that seemed very familiar.
It was the 34th straight victory for the Hornets in SEC Red play dating back to Sept. 27, 2013, when Saline lost to Bedford.
Saline junior QB Larry Robinson completed 19 of 25 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns. He threw touchdown passes to Caden Winston (five catches, 65 yards) and Luke Darmos (2 catches, 18 yards). Josh Rush rushed six times for 39 yards and a touchdown and opened the came with an 86-yard kickoff return touchdown. Gavin Lytle rushed 18 times for 124 yards and a touchdown.
Ypsilanti kicked off to Saline to begin the contest. Rush bobbled the kickoff but quickly recovered and started up the field. After beating the first wave of defenders, he cut to the cut toward the Saline sideline and ran the rest of the way for the touchdown.
"I muffled it, but I saw the opening and I just went for it. It was a huge gap. I just went for it. Once I got to about the 50 I just cut it up and saw just green," Rush said.
The kick was no good.
It looked like the Hornets might force a three-and-out, but Saline was penalized for roughing the punter on fourth down. The Hornet defense, which didn't allow a touchdown all evening, eventually stopped Ypsilanti. Saline got the ball back but didn't score. But the defense went back to work and got the ball back for Saline. Fueled by big gains by Caden Winston and Nathan Holmberg (3 catches, 46 yards), Saline made it into the red zone. The Hornet scored when Rush took the hand off, swept left and followed a big block by Lytle into the endzone.
On the extra point, the snap went over the head of kicker Brian Ablauf. he picked it up and tried to throw for a touchdown but was intercepted.
Saline had a couple of frustrating drives in the second quarter. Robinson was picked off in the end zone. A field goal attempt was pushed backwards after a penalty and then was wide.
The Hornets went into halftime up 12-0.
Saline kicked off to Ypsilanti to start the third quarter. The defense stopped Ypsilanti and the Hornet offense. Gavin Lytle bulled his way into the endzone from three yards out. After Ablauf's kick, Saline led 19-0.
Ypsilanti finally scored in the third quarter. Robinson's pass hit the receiver but bounced into the hands Camron Crawford who went about 50 yards for the touchdown. The kick was nearly blocked, but made it through the uprights. Saline led 19-7
Late in the third, the Hornets struck again. Robinson passed to Winston, who made a leaping catch near the Ypsilanti sideline and then rushed in for the score. Saline led 26-7 after the kick by Ablauf.
The Hornets put the game away with Sam Frush made a leaping interception near the Hornet goal line. Saline marched down the field and scored with Robinson finding Luke Darmos in the end zone for the touchdown pass.
Saline gained 403 yards of offense to Ypsilanti's 235.
Zack Antal led the defense, getting in on seven tackles, including one for a loss. London Parris and Max Miller were each in on five tackles. Emmauel Lupascu was in on six tackles. Max Koehn was in on four tackles and he deflected a pass.
Frush (two tackles) and Garret Baldwin each had an interception.
Augie Hutchison had a sack among his two tackles. Brett Baldus and Joe Raupp were each in on four tackles.
Roman Laurio caught three passes for 39 yards. Rush, Nicolas Walper and Eric Peoples each had two receptions.
The Saline Post 3 Stars
- Josh Rush - The junior running back's stats weren't gaudy at the end of the day, but Rush made the two plays that gave the Hornets the 12-0 lead at halftime while the Hornet offense got sorted. His 86-yard kickoff return to open the game was sensational. He also rushed for a touchdown, rushed six times for 39 yards and caught two passes.
- Zach Antal - The junior linebacker led the Hornet defense with seven tackles, including one for a loss. There were a lot of Hornets on defense who deserved praise tpnight.
- Larry Robinson - Gavin Lytle's 100-yard game deserves mention, but Robinson helped the offense regain its footing in the second half with two touchdown passes. He finished the day 19-for-25 for 215 yards and two TD passes.