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GR Christian outlasts St. Mary's in OT for Div. 3 title | News

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GR Christian outlasts St. Mary's in OT for Div. 3 title
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DETROIT (DETROIT FREE PRESS) - It should have been clear from the outset - when Grand Rapids Christian needed just three plays and 59 seconds to mount its first scoring drive - that the Division 3 championship was going to be a no-holds-barred display of offensive prowess. 

Both teams combined for 1,033 yards of total offense - a championship-game record - as the Eagles outlasted Orchard Lake St. Mary's, 40-37, Saturday night at Ford Field. 

Joel Schipper kicked a 28-yard field goal to tie the game with 4 seconds remaining in regulation and added the game-winner from 27 yards out on the first play of overtime after the Christian defense stopped St. Mary's. 

The Eagles (13-1) got several big plays from junior wideout Drake Harris, who became just the 12th player nationally to eclipse 2,000 yards receiving in a single season. He scored on a 74-yard catch-and-run in the second quarter, a play which put him past Sterling Heights Stevenson's D.J. Mershman, the former record holder. 

Harris caught eight passes Saturday for 243 yards - also a championship game record - but most important for the Eagles, two of those catches came on fourth-down plays on the game-tying drive in the waning minutes of regulation. 

Harris quarterback Alex VanDeVusse was 16 of 26 for 307 yards and broke a 47-yard touchdown run himself, on third-and-1 play where he shook off two tacklers before scampering up the left sideline. 

On the ground, Seth McIntosh scored three touchdowns for Christian: a 29-yarder in the game's first minute, a 4-yard run in the third quarter and a 32-yarder with 8 minutes to play that put the Eagles up 34-30. 

St. Mary's (11-3) countered with three touchdown runs by Grant Niemiec, two of which were 1-yard plunges, and a 3-yard run with 2:06 to play that put his team up 37-34. 

Charles Croone scored the Eaglets' first touchdown on a 14-yard run, while quarterback Matt Linehan hit Van Jefferson on an out pattern covering 33 yards 3 minutes before halftime. St. Mary's Sean Bauer had a safety in the third quarter, sacking VanDeVusse in the end zone shortly after the Eaglets coughed up the ball at the goal line. 

The Eaglets were also involved in the previous state championship game to go into extra sessions - the 2007 Division 3 classic, which East Grand Rapids won 46-39 in five overtimes.

BY WRIGHT WILSON/DETROIT FREE PRESS

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