Romeo survives miscues, topples Detroit C.C.

Geoff Robinson
The Detroit News

Washington Township — Romeo overcame a few self-inflicted wounds to reach its first Division 1 state semifinal since 1992 with a 40-29 regional final win over Detroit Catholic Central.

The first half saw Romeo outgain C.C. 239-91 en route to a 21-7 lead.

Romeo (11-1) opened the third quarter with a 13-play drive that went 86 yards and took seven minutes, 35 seconds off the clock and culminated in a 28-7 lead after a 7-yard touchdown pass from Paul Hurley to Mitchell Heimbuch.

That’s when things got crazy.

C.C.’s Austin Brown completed his first pass of the night on the very next play from scrimmage when he hit Alex Bock for a 72-yard touchdown.

On the ensuing kickoff, Romeo’s Bradley Tanner slipped on the natural grass field at the 3-yard line as he tried to return the kickoff. The bad field position turned out be great field position for C.C. as Hurley threw an interception on the next play. C.C. promptly scored two plays later on a 9-yard touchdown run by Philip Schmitz to pull within a score at 28-21.

“I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t nervous,” Romeo coach Curt Rienas said.

Tanner made up for his mistake on the next kickoff, returning the ball 63 yards and setting his team up at the C.C. 32. Three plays later, Domenico Bongiorno scored from four yards out to make it 34-21, completing a two minute, 16 second span in which four touchdowns were scored.

Brown tried to answer for C.C., but the freshman quarterback was intercepted by Tanner on the second-to-last play of the third. Romeo scored again on a 5-yard touchdown run by Hunberto Flores to cap a seven-play, 40-yard drive and stretch its lead to 40-21.

Cameron Ryan notched a 1-yard rushing score late for C.C., but there just wasn’t enough time on the clock for a comeback after Romeo recovered the onside kick attempt.

Romeo put up 440 yards of offense (312 rushing), getting touchdowns from five different players.

“Our line had an outstanding game,” Romeo running back Lucas Schimon said. “Biggest holes we’ve had all season, and we just took advantage of that.”

Schimon led the way on the ground for Romeo with 15 carries for 113 yards. He also had a 12-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter.

Bock was the big play man for C.C. (9-3). He had a 90-yard kickoff return in the first quarter for a touchdown to go with his touchdown reception in the third.

Romeo moves on to face Grand Ledge in Division 1 state semifinal Saturday at a time and place to be determined.

Geoff Robinson is a freelance writer.