Detroit — Last year, Pewamo-Westphalia running back Jared Smith broke the MHSAA season rushing yards and touchdown records, but his season ultimately ended in disappointment when his team came up short in the Division 7 state finals, losing 22-16 to Ishpeming.
This year, in his last appearance for Westphalia, Smith had a relatively quiet game, rushing 20 times for 48 yards. But his team’s season ended far better, winning the Division 7 championship, 28-14 over Detroit Loyola.
“When you come out with a win in a state championship, I’ve got nothing to complain about,” Smith said with a big smile, reflecting on Westphalia’s victory.
Westphalia (14-0) outgained Loyola (11-3), 170 yards to 123 on the ground, but it was in the air that Wespthalia did the most damage, outgaining Loyola 127 yards to 63 and hitting touchdown passes of 14 and 37 yards, making it 14-0 in the third quarter.
When Ryan Smith plunged into the end zone from two yards out with 34 seconds left in the third quarter, Westphalia pushed its lead to 21-0.
Westphalia receiver Logan Hengesbach pulled down both of his team’s receiving touchdowns from quarterback Jimmy Lehman, the second score a leaping grab over good Loyola coverage. He also recorded an interception.
“I saw Jimmy throw it, and you’ve just got to make a play out there. That’s why he threw it – he trusted me to make a play,” Hengesbach said.
Loyola was shorthanded, especially offensively. Star running backs D’Anthony Robinson and Malcolm Mayes were injured in last week’s semifinals. Robinson got nine carries on Saturday but was ineffective, only gaining 35 yards. Mayes didn’t play.
“We had to make some adjustments offensively and defensively, but it had nothing to do with it. They were the better team today,” Loyola coach John Callahan said.
Loyola was still in the game, down 7-0, when on fourth-and-7 from their 45 with 7:23 left in the third quarter, Loyola attempted a fake punt. Price Watkins sprinted to the left but only gained six yards, thwarted by Westphalia’s Bryce Thelen. On the ensuing drive, Lehman connected with Hengesbach for the 37-yard touchdown.
Keith Johnson scored for Loyola on an 18-yard pass from Watkins, who also tacked on the two-point conversion. But with 7:40 left, facing a 21-8 deficit and not being able to move the ball, the game was out of reach for Loyola.
Lehman threw over and ran through Loyola’s big defensive line. He finished 6-for-8 passing with 127 yards, and two touchdowns, plus a 1-yard rushing score in the fourth quarter to put Westphalia up 28-8.
Loyola sophomore D’Vaun Bently tallied the game’s final points, a two-yard touchdown run with 2:01 remaining.