Brighton beats Hartland with late field goal
September 10, 2022
By Terry Foster
Before a packed crowd at Hartland High School and under the banners of American flags flapping in the wind, somebody finally made the Brighton Bulldogs sweat during this young football season.
On Friday Brighton trailed 7-6 against bitter backyard rival Hartland in what looked like a near replay of the Bulldogs 7-6 victory over the Eagles a year ago at Brighton. But the Bulldogs were on the prowl, driving deep into Hartland territory with just a few minutes remaining.
This is when nervous Bulldogs began to bark for the offensive unit to pull out a tough win.
“It’s a brotherhood,” players screamed as they smacked one another on the shoulder pads. “We can do this!”
The brotherhood completed a long grueling drive where all hands were on deck as several players made big plays that was capped off by Braeden Chiles 25-yard field goal with 1:42 remaining to keep Brighton (3-0) unbeaten, 9-7, and send Hartland (1-2) to heart break city again.
A week ago Harland lost 13-10 to Novi when two touchdowns were called back.
This game was tough, bitter and delightful. No one deserved to lose, but this is how athletics work for the most part. In this case one team walks off a winner. One team gets the consolation prize of knowing it did everything in its power to bring pride to its town’s people.
“Our defense was awesome,” said Hartland coach Brian Savage. “They played a team that nearly put 100 points on the board the first two games. And they held them to a touchdown. Our kids played hard.”
Both teams played hard. And fans prayed hard during a game that hung in the balance most of the evening, For Brighton there would be no 21-0 run, such as the one that allowed it to pull away from Dearborn Fordson 35-14 in the opener. There would be no 30-point opening quarter splurge that carried the Bulldogs to an easy 43-6 win over Plymouth Salem.
Instead, people witnessed the popping of pads and determined defenders hell bent on not allowing freedom to the offensive units.
Hartland actually broke through first. Junior quarterback James Butzier fired a 37-yard circus touchdown pass to Mitchell Cavanaugh who bobbled and juggled the ball several times before grabbing hold. However, for the third time in two weeks the Eagles’ heart sank as officials called a touchdown back because of an illegal man down field.
Brighton scored for real with 8:18 remaining in the first half when wide out Ashton Tomassi caught a 23-yard touchdown from Grant Hetherton. However, Braeden Chiles missed the extra point.
The call went out on the Hartland sideline. Stop Tomassi and win the game. That mind set appeared to be the right call after Sam Clay hit Seth Strong for a four-yard touchdown with 6:53 remaining in the game. Alex Hernandez booted the extra point to put Hartland up, 7-6.
Here is the problem. Brighton is no one-man gang. Brighton took over at its 35-yard line and a number of people went to work. Running back Carson Shrader ran three times for 17 yards and caught three passes for 18 more.
Hartland’s Jakob Fisher briefly held the game in his hands as he dove to intercept a Heatherton pass in the end zone. However, he could not hang on to the ball.
“That target on your back keeps getting bigger and bigger,” Brighton coach Brian Lemons told his team after the game. “Own it.”