FINAL SCORE: Plymouth 46, Hartland 38
Season turnaround ends just short
If nothing else, the Eagles certainly made it exciting.
They began the season 1-3, were basically written off by everyone outside of the program, then won three of their next four games to force a potential do-or-die tilt with Plymouth in Week 9.
Hartland battled Plymouth — a team actually pretty similar to the Eagles, winning four of its final six games after and 0-3 start — the entire game, but fell just short, taking its fifth loss and therefore being eliminated from playoff contention for the second straight season.
It’s only the first time under coach Brian Savage that the Eagles will miss the playoffs in consecutive years. For what it’s worth, a fifth win wouldn’t have guaranteed Hartland entry, anyway, as 5-4 teams sometimes do miss the cut. But the projections on snooze2you.com had the Eagles making it and being matched up with Grand Ledge in the first round.
Plymouth wraps up a difficult season
Before 2016, the Wildcats had made the playoffs in nine of their 14 seasons in existence, and being playoff eligible in 10 of those seasons. Last year was the first in 10 straight seasons that they didn’t win at least five games.
Well, this year was the first time in school history that Plymouth failed to record at least five victories in back to back seasons. It concluded 2017 at 4-5 overall, although the Wildcats certainly ended it on a positive note.
After losing three straight games to open the season, they won four of their final six, finishing off the season by ending Hartland’s playoff hopes on Friday night. The final six matchups included a win over Northville and nearly another over Livonia Franklin, which Plymouth lost to, 10-7, in Week 7.
Both Hartland and Plymouth scored season highs in points
Given that Hartland had allowed an average of just 14.3 points over its previous four games entering the contest and Plymouth had surrendered only 14 total in its past two, what transpired wasn’t exactly expected.
The defenses opened up and offenses pounced for both schools.
Plymouth’s previous season high was 35 points, done twice, including last week against Westland John Glenn and in Week 5 to beat Northville, while Hartland’s was only 28, also done last week in its win over rival Howell.
By mid-fourth quarter, both Hartland and Plymouth had exceeded that. The Eagles hadn’t hit 30 points all season.
Collin Arnold had perhaps his best game
Hartland’s junior quarterback was very good on Friday night.
Whereas the Eagles’ struggled to get things going on the ground, rushing for just 45 yards on 22 carries — an average of 2.05 yards per carry — the passing game was excellent. Arnold wound up throwing for 227 yards, completing 12-of-24 passes and tossing two touchdowns.
Arnold’s 71-yard catch-and-run heave to Jake Moyer cut Plymouth’s 12-point lead to five. His 22-yard pass to Tommy Lappin made it 31-22 following Logan Tobel’s two-point conversion run.
Moyer ended up the leading receiver, catching the one pass for the long score. Tobel hauled in six passes for 69 yards and Lappin caught two balls for 25 yards and the TD. Although a disappointing finish, the Eagles will be happy to have two potential quarterbacks returning in Arnold and freshman Zach Trainor.
Plymouth’s rushing game could not be stopped
Hartland has allowed some huge rushing nights to enemy tailbacks. But entering Week 9, it seemed as if the Eagles were over that, limiting opponents to just 14.3 points per game over the previous four weeks.
But Hartland’s struggles at stopping the run returned Friday. Plymouth rushed for a ridiculous 509 yards, scoring six touchdowns via the ground attack.
Logan Walkley tallied 189 rushing yards and three TDs on 16 carries. Mike Mathias needed only 14 touches to register 193 yards — 171 of which were on the ground — and a score. Carson Miller made it three Plymouth players to have 100-plus-yard nights, running for 149 yards on 30 carries.