Canton’s football team and its crazy-massive homecoming/senior night crowd enjoyed a storybook beginning Friday night when the inspired Chiefs rumbled to a 14-0 lead in just five minutes.
The game’s final 43 minutes, however, read more like a Stephen King novel for the hosts, who suffered through a scary 52-26 setback to Brighton.
The September Super Moon could have had something to do with the haunting turn-around; but the biggest culprit was Brighton quarterback Grant Hetherton, who completed 17 of 25 passes for 320 yards and three touchdowns.
Canton senior Devon Pettus tried to keep the Chiefs competitive, rushing for 165 yards and two TDs on 17 carries, but Canton couldn’t get anything out of its passing game until the fourth quarter when it was already too late to mount a serious comeback.
Looking to rebound
The Chiefs’ fourth consecutive loss dropped them to 2-4 overall and 1-4 in the KLAA West Division. Brighton improved to 3-3 and 3-2, respectively, and — most importantly — kept its playoff hopes alive.
It’s been a tough transition year for Canton, which is adjusting to a new coaching staff, a new offense and — very soon — a new nickname and mascot.
Plus, its first two home games were shifted to other sites due to flooding issues on the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park’s two turf fields.
Despite all of the changes, the Chiefs have battled hard and rarely hung their heads, even when talented opponents like Brighton are going on 45-0 runs.
A prime example played out early in the fourth quarter when Canton quarterback Devvin Calhoun connected with sophomore Zyaire Martin on a highlight reel 26-yard play that put the ball on the Bulldog 4-yard line.
Martin’s effort was spectacular as he secured the ball between two Bulldog defenders.
No quit in Chiefs
Two plays later, Oluwadamilola Giwa broke multiple tackles and scored on a 4-yard run to bring the hosts to within 45-20.
But as fate would have it, Brighton countered by scoring on the first play of its next drive: a 69-yard TD pass from Hetherton to Carter Gregg.
Back to the good news: Canton cashed in on its opening drive of the night when Pettus weaved through the heart of the Bulldog defense before outrunning them to score on a 62-yard run.
Three minutes later, Canton starting quarterback Alex Guadagni followed up a 9-yard run with a 1-yard QB sneak TD to make it 14-0 (Austin O’Sullivan booted both extra points). Guadagni’s TD was set up by senior Caleb Williams’ interception, which he returned to the Brighton 12.
The rout was on, right?
Not so fast, said Hetherton, who knotted the game at 14-all with back-to-back keeper touchdowns.
No looking back
Brighton snatched the lead for good with 3:39 left before halftime when Hetherton launched an 84-yard scoring strike to Brayden Platt.
After Hetherton added his third running TD and Gavin Unsworth returned a blocked punt 15 yards for a touchdown, the Bulldogs had a 35-14 lead.
Brighton’s defensive player of the night was junior DB Jason Eisinger, who picked off two passes — the first of which he returned to the Canton 1.
Canton finished with 118 yards passing, with Calhoun accounting for 112. Senior receiver/co-homecoming king Nathan Levine had two catches for 46 yards.
The Chiefs will look to notch their first victory since Aug. 31 on Friday when they face Salem at the P-CEP east turf field.
Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or firstname.lastname@example.org.