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Orion falls in state semifinal

From left, seniors Alex Plourde and Brandon Clements try to bring down a Cass Tech ball-carrier. (click for larger version)
November 21, 2012 - Two great teams took to the field at Troy Athens High School last Saturday to play their hearts out, but only one would leave with a ticket to the state finals.

Orion would not be that team, falling in the state semifinals, 34-27 to Detroit Cass Tech.

The game saw Orion's characteristically strong running game held in check thanks to a hearty Cass Tech defensive line.

Passing too was difficult as senior quarterback Derek DeLaura was often pressured.

Down 21-14 at halftime, Orion made a strong recovery in the second half and pulled to within one point, 28-27, after a 66-yard TD run by Corey Ester followed by a missed extra point.

Cass Tech got an insurance TD four minutes later but also missed an extra point, making the final score 25-27.

The Dragons couldn't mount another TD drive late that could have tied the game.

Cass Tech's dynamic duo of quarterback Jayru Campbell and running back Mike Weber accounted for all five of the Technicians scores. Campbell three for touchdowns and passed for 198 yards. Weber ran for 127 yards and two TDs.

Head Coach Chris Bell noted that it was a well-played game by both squads and either could have won.

"Sometimes a team just lines up and beats and you because they are better than you, but that wasn't the case today. We know we had opportunities in this game and we could have won. We had a chance to win the game and that's why it hurts as much as it does. But, I'm very proud of them. They were a joy to coach."

Cass Tech did well to put a wrench in Orion's running game and limited them to just 179 yards (to the Technician's 160.) Junior Ester led the rushing attack with 99 yards and a touchdown. Senior running back Jacob Miller followed closely with 58 and one TD, while junior Chris Leigh had 38 rushing yards.

The Dragons relied more on passing to get around the Technicians large defensive line and passed for a total of 128 yards (to Cass Tech's 198.)

Senior starting quarterback DeLaura threw eight completions to Leigh (for 53), senior Chaz Miller had 36 yards and senior Jeremy King had 19.

It was a disappointing loss so close to a state title opportunity, but Bell offered parting words of comfort. During his post-game talk to his players, he reminded them how proud he and the community of Orion was of their accomplishments.

"You gave everything you had," Bell told his team. "(Cass Tech) knows they were lucky to win this game. You are a great football team and a joy to coach."

Lake Orion's last run in with the Technicians was in 2010 in the state semi-finals when the Dragons won 24-21.

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