Running game powers Pewamo-Westphalia past Saugatuck

Pewamo-Westphalia defeated Saugatuck in the Division 7 championship game at Ford Field in Detroit on Nov. 25, 2017.

DETROIT (WOOD) — The Saugatuck football team was hoping to bring home the school’s first state championship.

Unfortunately, the Indians’ postseason nemesis struck again.

Saugatuck suffered a 21-0 defeat to defending champion Pewamo-Westphalia in Saturday’s Division 7 state championship game at Ford Field.

The Indians, who last reached the finals in 2010, have lost to the Pirates four of the past five years in the postseason.

“Nobody expected us to be where we are at today and we had a great season,” said Saugatuck coach Bill Dunn.

Saugatuck finished with a 10-4 record.

“Great credit to Pewamo. They are a great program, well-coached, well-disciplined, but I’m proud of my guys, too. They did a tremendous job to get here today, and we had a few struggles, but they never quit on each other and we gave them a fight in the second half the best we could.”

The Pirates rushed for 278 yards, and scored on their opening drive as Bryce Thelen reached the end zone from five yards out to take a 7-0 lead.

“We knew coming in that we had to stop their running game,” Dunn said. “They are good up front with an excellent running game, but that was huge to start off with. We had our moments when we could’ve come back, and unfortunately, it didn’t happen.

After the Indians fumbled deep in their own territory, Pewamo-Westphalia capitalized on the miscue when Jimmy Lehman scored on a 12-yard touchdown.

The Pirates (13-1) padded their advantage in the final minute of the first half. Thelen connected with Peyton Heckman on a 12-yard score, extending the lead to 21-0 at halftime.

Saugatuck struggled to generate any offense and finished with only 147 total yards, including only 26 in the first half.

The Indians had a chance to trim the deficit in the fourth, but a 10-play drive stalled when quarterback Jackson Shriver was sacked on fourth-and-goal.

Saugatuck leaned on their defense throughout their postseason run, and held the high-scoring Pirates scoreless in the second half.

“They’ve scored a lot of points this year, so to hold a team like that to 21 is a good credit,” Dunn said. “A couple of those came off of miscues, either offensively or a turnover, but our defense was exceptional considering the opponent. They were just a little bit better today.”

Jacob Stewart had nine rushes for 43 yards to lead the Indians, while Thelen, Lehman and Hunter Wirth combined for 252 rushing yards.