HOWELL —After a terrible second half the week before, the Howell football team did a little soul-searching.
What the Highlanders found was a renewed focus, and that, plus a record-setting rushing performance from Ryan Brennan, helped lift the Highlanders past Grand Blanc, 48-46, for a win on homecoming on Friday.
Brennan was busy, carrying the ball 43 times for over 300 yards, breaking a record set by Dave Hibner 40 years ago for yardage and a carries record set by Richie Wilson a decade ago.
But, for a guy who carried the ball so much, Brennan was quick to hand off credit for his performance.
“It was the biggest game of the year,” he said of his offensive line. “That win is 100 percent on them. They did everything. I ran through some huge holes.”
Brennan and Joey Gossett combined for six scores.
“He probably ran more than I wanted to run him, or any player,” Metz said of Brennan. “But things happen. A couple of pass plays turned into scrambles, and it was what it was.”
What it also was was a key shot in the arm for the Highlanders, now 4-2 overall and 3-0 in the KLAA West.
“It was a huge win,” Brennan said. “A momentum changer. Everything we want is still in front of us right now.”
But Grand Blanc threatened late, scoring to make it 48-46, but missing a 2-point conversion try when Mitch Sussalla made what turned out to be the game-saving tackle.
“It sets us up for our goal, which is to win the KLAA West,” Sussalla said. “It keeps us in the running.”
Fowlerville 17, Williamston 14
FOWLERVILLE — The Gladiators trailed 7-0 at halftime, then took a 10-7 lead in the third quarter after Nick Semke rushed for a touchdown and Bailey Edwards kicked a field goal early in the fourth.
“We thought that would have been it, but they came back with a trick play, and the guy goes the distance,” Fowlerville coach Bret Shrader said of Sy Barrett’s 70-yard run.
But the Gladiators came back with their own long score, an 85-yard pass completion from Semke to Josh Nabozny for what turned out to be the winning score.
For Fowlerville (4-2, 2-2), it was an important win coming off an emotional loss to Lansing Catholic the week before.
“We were really, really amped up for that game,” Shrader said, “and I told the boys coming in this was going to be a tought week emotionall, that this was going to be the thye knew the team the most, and they came out great.”
Semke rushed for 95 yards, threw for 95 more and had a key interception on defense for the Glads. Alex Brownlee also rushed for 82 yards.
Brighton 48, Milford 21
BRIGHTON — Luke Helwing rushed for 217 yards and two scores as the Bulldogs improved to 5-1 and stayed all alone in first place in the KLAA West with the win.
“We did a good job getting on top of them early,” Brighton coach Brian Lemons said. “We got out to a 21-0 lead and the weather was a big factor tonight in terms of how we handled our offense. We played a pretty tight game up front and we were able to open some big holes up front. Luke had a terrific night running the football.”
Helwing scored from 14 and 61 yards, while five other players scored rushing touchdowns for Brighton. The Bulldogs had 339 yards in total offense, all but 10 on the ground.