Utica — Freezing temps couldn’t cool off West Bloomfield as it defeated Utica Eisenhower, 28-25, in the Division 1 Region 4 title game at Swinehart Field in Utica on Friday night.
West Bloomfield (10-2, 6-1 OAA Red) has now won 10 straight and moves on to the state semifinals for the first time.
West Bloomfield got the ball on its own 20, down 25-22 with 2:09 left in the fourth quarter. Senior quarterback Bryce Veasley engineered an 11-play, 80-yard drive, capped by a 4-yard Veasley touchdown run to take the lead.
Eisenhower (11-1) couldn’t muster enough offense to attempt a field goal on its final drive, losing a fumble to end the game.
“It’s surreal. Our seniors made play after play. This was a great team win,” West Bloomfield coach Ron Bellamy said, receiving a hug from a player who had tears of joy streaming down his face.
Veasley continued his Mr. Football-caliber play, going 23-for-37 for 322 yards with three touchdowns.
“Everything was working well for us. It was just a matter of executing,” Veasley said.
“Bryce led us down the field like a senior should, like the best player in Michigan should. He wanted the ball on that final touchdown,” Bellamy said.
Eisenhower quarterback Jack Morris filled in admirably for regular starter Max Wittwer, who was out with an ankle injury. Morris finished with 95 rushing yards including two scores, going 5-for-17 passing with 168 yards and one touchdown.
“That’s no different than how he’s played all year,” Eisenhower coach Chris Smith said. “He’s a gutsy player, tough, physical player. I didn’t expect anything different from him.”
Smith said the way his players played through the adversity of losing top players to injuries is what will stick with him about this team.
“I’m not disappointed. It’s two of the top teams in the state, so that’s what you expect. You’ve got to make those plays in the end and they did,” Smith said.
West Bloomfield’s passing game was just too much for Eisenhower. Veasley spread the ball around to six receivers.
Senior wide receiver Tre Mosley caught six passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns. He had two critical catches on West Bloomfield’s decisive drive.
West Bloomfield’s senior wide receiver Taj Mustapha (Wisconsin) had nine catches for 103 yards and three catches on West Bloomfield’s final drive.
“We were just taking what the defense gave us. Whatever our read was, that’s who I threw to. I trust my receivers 100 percent,” Veasley said.
“They are ultimate competitors,” Bellamy said about his receiving corps. “Every day they go into practice and work hard for moments like this.”
The first half ended with Eisenhower up, 17-9. The biggest play in the first half came when Morris hit Ben Mets for a 58-yard pass, setting up Eisenhower’s first score, a 5-yard Morris run.
Veasley started the first half with a bang. He threw 40 yards to junior Tre Mosley, who juked a defender and took it to the house to bring West Bloomfield to within 17-15.
On West Bloomfield’s next possession, Veasley handed off to Donovan Edwards, who threw to an open Mosley for a 24-yard score, putting West Bloomfield up, 22-17 with five minutes left in the third quarter.
Eisenhower answered with a 40-yard Jack Morris run and two-point conversion, putting Eisenhower up 25-22 with 10 minutes left.
West Bloomfield will meet Cass Tech in a semifinal next Saturday.
“They’re the defending state champs,” Bellamy said. “It should be an exciting football game.”
Eric Coughlin is a freelance writer.