By John Johnson
MHSAA Director of Broadcast Properties
A lot of people say in any sport that there’s a play, or a sequence of plays, that swings a game – that locks down the outcome.
You might be able to define “swing” with a defensive red zone stop and the longest pass play in MHSAA Football Finals history during the 2008 Division 6 championship game.
Montague quarterback Cody Kater found Anthony Root down the right sideline for a pitch and catch that went for 98 yards and squashed a potential comeback by Leslie in a 41-20 win for the Panthers at Ford Field.
The swing began just three plays earlier, when the Montague defense stopped Leslie on downs deep in its own territory with about four minutes to play in the first half. The Blackhawks were knocking on the door, looking to cut into a 21-6 lead when a 4th-and-goal pass fell incomplete.
The Panthers were backed up, but they didn’t back down.
“They thought they had us and, boom, we’re 98 yards the other way,” Kater said to the Detroit Free Press. “I think the ball had even gotten tipped a little bit, but Anthony made a great play.” The pair had already connected for a 46-yard scoring pass in the first quarter.
Montague continued the swing moments later with a pass interception by Jordan Degen with a minute to play that led to a TD run by A.J. LaRue, which gave the Wildcats a 35-6 halftime lead.
Kater was an efficient 4 of 6 passing for 175 yards in the game, while Root accounted for 144 of that total with his two scoring catches. The Wildcats defense forced four turnovers.
PHOTO: Montague's Cody Kater launches a pass from his team's end zone in 2008 that turned into a 98-yard reception, the longest in MHSAA Finals history.