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Catholic Central hangs on for 17-12 victory over rival Brother Rice

Kameron Goodwill
Special to The Detroit News

Pontiac -- Detroit Catholic Central was able to hold off rival Birmingham Brother Rice in a close 17-12 victory on Saturday night and overcame a number of first-half errors en route to the victory.

Despite a number of bad snaps and fumbles in the opening half, Catholic Central coach Dan Anderson said he was happy with his team’s performance, given that it was a rivalry game.

“I felt like we did a good job. Anytime you play in a rivalry game, you’re gonna have the anticipation and the nerves," Anderson said. "At times, especially throughout the first half, I felt like we were making mistakes because we were so tightly wound, we didn’t want to make mistakes but that usually causes you to make mistakes."

Detroit Catholic Central running back Mohamed Jaffer, left, runs for yardage and is knocked out of bounds by a Birmingham Brother Rice defenseman in the first quarter, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in a game held at Wisner Stadium in Pontiac.

Catholic Central quarterback Declan Byle missed on his first three passing attempts, but Catholic Central got on the board in its second drive when Byle connected with Sam Dersa for a 37-yard touchdown.

Brother Rice answered back when quarterback Jake Coulter found wide receiver Cole Lacanaria for a 48-yard touchdown near the end of the first quarter, but the extra point was wide right. 

Catholic Central drove down the field in the second quarter, but thanks to multiple plays of lost yardage and penalties, the team had to settle for only three points in the second quarter.

Byle connected with Owen Semp for a 48-yard passing touchdown that gave Catholic Central a 17-6 lead in the third quarter. But Brother Rice responded with a long drive that included a fourth and inches conversion, when Coulter found Lacanaria for a five-yard gain. 

Birmingham Brother Rice quarterback Jake Coulter throws against Detroit Catholic Central in the first quarter, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in a game held at Wisner Stadium in Pontiac.

On the next play, Coulter found Lacanaria again, this time Lacanaria broke a tackle and ran down the sideline for a 32-yard score. Brother Rice tried to cut the deficit to three points but failed on the two-point conversion.

Brother Rice had an opportunity to win the game, converting two third downs — one on their final drive with Coulter connecting with Milia both times. However, Coulter fumbled on the first play after the second third-down conversion, with Catholic Central recovering the lost ball.

It was one of the many mistakes that Brother Rice had that worried coach Adam Korzeniewski.

Korzeniewski said he liked that the team battled through mistakes, but said the film will show that they made too many to win.

“I think we got a lot of ability," Korzeniewski said. "We’re really young, so I’m not surprised that we made a bunch of mistakes.  And if we can correct these mistakes, these guys can realize how good that they can maybe be as a team, and we may have a chance to do some really good things."

Catholic Central's defense collected six sacks on Coulter, an interception, and was able to capitalize on Brother Rice’s mistakes.

“We just kept trying to talk to them, try to settle them down and just have them be composed," Anderson said. "We always talk about having poise and confidence and we try to preach that to them as well."