WHITEFORD WINS STATE TITLE

By DOUG DONNELLY

DETROIT – Shea Ruddy capped off a brilliant four-year career with a seven-yard touchdown run with 1:59 remaining Friday to lift Whiteford to a 26-20 win over Ubly in the Division 8 state championship game.

Ruddy, who has been the starting Whiteford quarterback since week one of his freshman season, threw for 112 yards and rushed for 64 yards and two touchdowns in the game, but more importantly led the Bobcats on a game-winning drive after Ubly came from two touchdowns down to tie the game. The Bobcats got the ball back with 9:41 remaining in the fourth quarter and put together a 15-play, 80-yard drive.

On third and goal, Whiteford called a run play to Ruddy who rolled out, beat the Ubly linebacker and snuck into the corner of the end zone for the score.

“When the play was called, I was pretty confident I could get there,” Ruddy said. “I started running and had the one guy to beat. I was dead tired after that run. I was just happy I got there.”

On the final drive the Bobcats called 13 run plays and two passes – one was complete to Kolby Masserant for a big gain that got the Bobcats past midfield.

“I told our assistant coach (and offensive coordinator Ben Avis) before that last drive that I wanted the ball in Shea’s hands,” said Bobcat head coach Todd Thieken. “In that situation, he’s such a calming influence on everyone. He commands respect and I think the guys believe in him when he is in the huddle.”

Ruddy said he wasn’t surprised how Whiteford was able to come back and score.

“We’ve made plays like that all year,” he said.

Ubly head coach Eric Sweeney was impressed with Ruddy.

“We saw him do those kinds of things on film,” Sweeney said. “That’s the best kid I’ve seen by far, the best athlete we’ve faced. We knew we had to contain him.”

Whiteford led 12-0 early in the game, taking advantage of an Ubly fumble and a Bearcat punt to score back-to-back touchdowns – one by Hunter DeBarr and one by Ruddy.

Whiteford’s defense held Ubly out of the end zone on the next drive despite having a first-and-goal situation. Ubly quarterback Evan Peruski tried to get into the end zone on a fourth down run by Ruddy, Brayden Luse and Jake Iott stopped him at the three.

“To keep them out of the end zone there was huge,” Thieken said. “That might have been the biggest play of the game.”

The Bobcats, however, turned the ball over, which led to an Ubly touchdown and a 12-6 game going into halftime. Whiteford scored first in the second half on a DeBarr touchdown run, but the Bearcats put together two scoring drives with running back Seth Mauer scoring from 31 and 9 yards out as Ubly tied the game at 20-20.

Ubly outgained Whiteford 254-233 in rushing yards but the Bobcats had 112 yards compared to 13 by Ubly through the air. Kolby Masserant had five catches for 82 yards for the Bobcats while DeBarr had two receptions for 30 yards. DeBarr led Whiteford with 96 yards on the ground.

Mauer had 129 yards on 15 carries to lead Ubly, who came into the game having dominated opponents all season, winning by an average of 42 points a game.

“I’m proud of the way our kids responded on that last drive,” Thieken said. “We were up two scores and they came back, but there was no quit in our kids. They made some tremendous plays. The way we finished that game was a testament to all 51 kids in our program and the way they’ve worked all season. They’ve just had a tremendous attitude all season.”

Thieken said the Bobcats didn’t change their game plan at all Friday.

“The big key was just trying to stop that T offense,” he said. “By the time they snapped the ball sometimes it was like they had four yards. Our game plan was to get a stop here or there and we had to take their quarterback out of the game. We had to make sure their quarterback didn’t hurt us. He had one or two decent runs today, but nothing like we saw him have on film. The defense did a great job.”

Ryin Ruddy led Whiteford with 13 tackles while Jake Iott had 13 and Shea Ruddy 12. Shea Ruddy also had a first half interception.

Whiteford finishes 14-0 for the second time in school history, winning the school’s first state title since 2017. Friday’s state final was by far the closest game the Bobcats had all season.

Whiteford 26, Ubly 20

Ubly 0 6 7 7 – 20

Whiteford 12 0 8 6 – 26

W – Hunter DeBarr 26 yard run (run failed), 9:17, 1st

W – Shea Ruddy 1 run (run failed), 1:43, 1st

U – Mark Heilig 2 run (kick failed), 4:19, 2nd

W – DeBarr 4 run (Ruddy run), 7:12, 3rd

U – Seth Mauer 31 run (Brett Mueller kick), 3:34, 3rd

U – Mauer 9 run (Mueller kick), 9:41, 4th

W – Ruddy 7 run (run failed), 1:59, 4th

Rushing – Ubly: Seth Mauer 15-129, Mark Heilig 18-82, Evan Peruski 7-40, Aiden Mackowiak 2-3. Whiteford: Hunter DeBarr 19-96, Shea Ruddy 13-64, Drew Knaggs 9-43, Jake Iott 10-23, Luis Trejo 1-5, Brandon Knaggs 1-2, Team 4-0.

Passing – Ubly: Evan Peruski 1-5-0-1 13. Whiteford: Shea Ruddy 8-12-0-1 112.

Receiving – Ubly: Mark Heilig 1-13. Whiteford: Kolby Masserant 5-82, Hunter DeBarr 2-30, Ryin Ruddy 1-0.

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