ORCHARD LAKE, Mich. - For a few fleeting moments Friday night, it looked as if De La Salle Collegiate's offense could not be stopped.
Senior quarterback Anthony Stepnitz was finding receivers out of the backfield and was carrying two, three defenders on his back in an attempt to gain some extra yardage. And senior running back Muzzie Kahari was a force to be reckoned with, bullying his way through the defense en route to a pair of second-quarter touchdowns.
But then halftime happened.
Orchard Lake St. Mary's defense stepped it up in the second half, shutting down the Pilots' offense while junior kicker Tommy Doman kicked a pair of field goals to help the Eaglets overcome a four-point deficit and pick up a 16-14 win on their home field.
Doman had three field goals in his team's win, including kicks of 32, 41 and 19 - the last of which came with 10:18 remaining in the game and proved to be the eventual game-winner.
De La Salle did not go down easily. The Pilots' defense was spectacular throughout, not allowing an offensive touchdown to the Eaglets. Coach Mike Giannone's squad forced a pair of turnovers, including a fumble recovery by senior Ricky Pearson in the end zone to end the first half and a key fumble recovery in the game's final minute, which gave the Pilots one-last opportunity. But St. Mary's rose to the occasion, forcing a turnover on downs to essentially end the game.
Leading the way defensively for the Pilots were sophomore William Beesley (11 solo tackles), junior Jayden Conklin (eight total tackles) and junior Justice Scott (seven total tackles). Junior Tyler Gerling had four pass deflections, Pearson had a pair of fumble recoveries and seniors Justin Desmet and Michael Young had four quarterback hurries each.
St. Mary's jumped out to an early 10-0 lead thanks to a field goal by Doman and a 35 yard interception return by sophomore Jordan Cannon late in the first quarter. With the victory, the Eaglets improve to 5-0 on the season and 1-0 in the Catholic League Central Division. They'll face Brother Rice on Saturday (Oct. 5).
De La Salle falls to 2-3 overall, 0-2 in the Central Division. The Pilots return home Friday night to face Detroit Catholic Central at Wayne State University.