Just when it looked like Friday afternoon’s Plymouth-at-Canton football game was about to get interesting, Wildcat senior Jaxon McCaig and his mammoth offensive line made sure it didn’t.
Leading 21-7 in the final minute of the third quarter — and moments after the Chiefs had earned their first slice of momentum on Alex Guadagni’s 5-yard touchdown run — McCaig broke free for a 74-yard TD sprint down the home team’s sideline to help the Wildcats regain their 21-point cushion in a game they’d go on to win 35-14.
Both teams are now 2-3 overall. Plymouth is 2-1 in the KLAA West Division while the Chiefs slipped 1-2.
Originally scheduled to be played at 6:30 p.m. on the P-CEP campus’s west turf field, kick-off was at 4:30 p.m. on the east field due to the ongoing closure of the west field.
“That’s my favorite play,” McCaig said, when asked about the game’s longest run. “We ran it last week, too, and I scored.
“We start out of the pistol formation. I line up right behind our quarterback, Sam Plencner, and I make a sharp cut. I kind of hide behind my offensive linemen for a second, which is easy to do because they’re so big, and I look for daylight.”
Jay leads the way
McCaig followed his lead blocker Jay Shqau nearly the length of the field before exploding into the end zone.
Prior to the big play, Canton had held McCaig pretty much in check through the first three quarters, with the exception of a 25-yard first-quarter run.
But the senior, who announced earlier this week he is generating interest from the University of Michigan as a preferred walk-on, helped seal the deal with fourth-quarter runs of 21 and 10 yards.
“This win was huge for us,” said Plymouth Head Coach Greg Souldourian. “We needed to win this game to get to where we want to be. There’s nothing better than winning rivalry games.
“When people doubt us, that’s when we seem to play our best.”
Big night for No. 3
McCaig finished with 19 carries for 177 yards and one touchdown. He had a 59-yard touchdown nullified by a holding penalty in the first half.
Plymouth senior quarterback Sam Plencner was his usual gutsy, effective self, completing 9 of 16 passes for 141 yards and four TDs — all to different receivers.
The play that epitomized Plencner’s night unfolded with 10:23 left in the second quarter when he eluded three Canton defensive linemen before finding Camden Short wide open in the right flat.
Once Short secured the pass, he broke a tackle at the 5-yard line and coasted into the end zone to put Plymouth ahead 14-0.
Setting the tone
The Wildcats opened the scoring on Plencner’s 13-yard TD pass to Logan Pheiffer.
Plencner improvised again when he connected with Jimmy Cleveland on a 51-yard TD strike that widened the ‘Cats’ lead to 21-0.
“Sam does stuff like that at practice every day,” Souldourian said, smiling. “You kind of hold your breath for a second and then he manages to find a open receiver.”
Trailing 21-0 late in the third quarter, Canton mounted a long drive that was capped by Guadagni’s 5-yard keeper.
The Chiefs’ final points came on Devon Pettus’s 5-yard run with 7:28 left in the game.
Guadagni completed 9 of 23 passes for 101 yards. Pettus ran the ball 18 times for 105 yards.
Canton junior receiver Nick Parrish was effective late in the game, hauling in three passes for 58 yards.
Defensively, the Chiefs were led by defensive lineman Reuben Williams, who stuffed a number of inside runs, and Zyaire Martin, who picked off a Plencner pass.
Plymouth linebacker Joey Allen recorded a huge early-game sack, while Luc Damiani took an interception to the house.
A penalty negated the touchdown, but the pick still stood as the infraction happened after Damiani had gained possession.
Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or firstname.lastname@example.org.