The Wolverines lost to the Birmingham Patriots 30-21 in the season opener Friday night. Last season they beat the Patriots 33-28. This year, the Wolverines were unable to convert clutch touchdown opportunities or stop the strong Birmingham offensive running.
Under new Head Coach Michael Burnett, the team started the game running the first three plays of the game. Quarterback, Jameson Wang ’20 had very few long passes throughout the game.
“One of my strengths is running the ball,” Wang said. “I know how to make guys miss in open space, and make the defense honest, knowing that I can run the ball.”
The Patriots scored first, but Wang quickly answered by throwing a complete pass to wide receiver, Terrell Long ’21 who broke two tackles in order to make it to the end zone. Both teams’ kickers completed their field goals, and the score was tied 7-7.
During the second quarter, the Patriots missed a punt, and the ball was recovered by wide receiver, Brendan Kang ’20. The next play, wide receiver Jason Thompson ’22 leapt over a defender to receive throw from Wang and secure another touchdown for the Wolverines.
Birmingham scored two touchdowns with two-point conversions to end the second quarter making the score 23-14. Burnett and the Wolverines gathered during half time to make adjustments.
“Offensively, we really focused on ourselves and the mental mistakes we made in the first half,” Burnett said. “I think, once our nerves settled down, we were able to play much more effectively in the second half. Defensively, we needed to make a few adjustments to how we were aligning to such a physical team.”
In the third quarter, both teams had difficulty maintaining drives due to penalties and strong defense on both sides.
Momentum shifted at the start of the fourth quarter as the Wolverines started controlling the ball with a combination of clutch conversions by Wang and strong running by running back Sultan Daniels ’19.
“Before the game I knew it was going to be 4 quarter, and it would be close all the way to the end,” Wang said. “Birmingham’s best players go both ways. I knew they were going to be tired towards the 4th quarter, and we needed to take advantage of that.”
Wang got the first down with a complete pass to wide receiver Donovan Econn ’19 which was followed by two runs by Daniels, scoring a touchdown.
“In the second half we were able to get our running game going which opened up passing lanes and our allowed for big plays,” Daniels said. “After a couple of those big plays you could feel the energy building.”
Kicker Charlie Mendes ’19 was a perfect 3-3 on point after attempts.
Continuing with the Wolverine success, Wang completed a 41 yard pass to wide receiver Chase Harleston ’21. However inches before the goal line, Birmingham defenders stripped Daniels and recovered the ball.
Clinging to their two point lead, Birmingham took a risk and called a fake punt. Patriots’ quarterback lofted it high in the air to their wide receiver, who ran an additional 30 yards to bring the ball into Wolverine territory, leading to their final touchdown.
“It was a tough call that went against us down on the goal line, but I was proud of how our team responded,” Burnett said. “Then their player made a great play on the fake punt that really turned the game. If either of those two plays had gone our way, I think we would have won the game.”
Another turnover by the Wolverines and penalty clinched the game for Birmingham.
The Wolverines’ next game will be against Venice High School at Venice next Friday, with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.