Adams Football continues mastery, topples Rochester for 14th straight time

ROCHESTER HILLS — In sports there are all type of streaks.

Hitting steaks, shutouts, consecutive free throws, extra points converted. Pick your sport and pick your streak. There are thousands of them.

Rochester Adams has put together quite a streak on the football field in its own right. The Highlanders have now defeated Rochester 14 straight times, including Friday’s 31-14 victory over the visiting Falcons.

The win, part of the inaugural OAA crossover week between the White and Red divisions, also gave Adams its sixth win and qualifies the Highlanders for the postseason for the 14th straight time.

It was the first time since the late 1990s that the rivalry game meant much. The game, played on Week 8 instead of Week 9 for the first time in its storied 41-year history, had served a playoff tune-up for the Highlanders in recent years.

Rochester has not defeated Adams since 1996 and the Highlanders now lead the all-time series, which began in 1970, by a 27-14 margin.

“I can’t take credit for all of it because I’ve only been here for eight years but I think that’s a testament to the kids that come through this program,” said Adams head coach Tony Patritto, who has guided the Highlanders to a state championship and a pair of Final Fours since taking over in 2003. “I’ll also give a lot of credit to our staff for that. You have to do a lot right to win six games every year. I think a lot of people take it for granted around here, but I don’t. I’m very proud of our team and to be a part of this.”

Locked in a 14-14 tie at the half, Adams (6-2) surged out of the locker room with 17 unanswered points to turn a close game into a lopsided affair.

Adams picked off Rochester quarterback Nick Bradley three times in the second half, recovered an on-side kick and kept the Falcons (5-3) from moving the football into the red zone.

The only time Rochester got inside the Highlanders’ 30 in the second half, Bradley was picked off by Alex Borglin at the Adams’ 28 on the Falcons’ second drive of the half.

Tony Annese had 18 carries for 77 yards and was 4-for-10 for 86 yards and a touchdown, while Phil Annese added three catches for 103 yards. Borglin and Phil Annese combined for the three second-half interceptions for the Highlanders.

Adams (6-2), which was coming off a rough 50-21 defeat to top-ranked Farmington Harrison (Division 2), recovered the onside kick to start the third quarter.

Edward Williams scooped up the ball at the Rochester 45 and ran it down to the 37. Two plays later, Jordan Gowman sprinted 37 yards up the middle for the go-ahead points with 11:11 left in the frame.

“We believe in our defense and that’s why we can take those kinds of chances with the onside kick in the second half,” said Patritto. “Our defense was strong all night and then our offense started to click a little bit.

“To be honest with you the biggest adjustment we made was to stop making the stupid mistakes that we did in the first half,” continued Patritto. “We made a lot of mental errors in the first half and then we settled down and got away from that.”

After Borglin grabbed his second interception of the contest, the Highlanders put together a 9-play drive that ended when Cameron Casey, who nailed four extra points, booted a 35-yard field goal with 2:24 left in the third to push the lead to 24-14.

Tony Annese found brother Phil Annese for a 40-yard scoring toss with 8:27 left in the contest to cap the scoring for Adams.

The loss left Rochester with a must-win situation at Royal Oak next week in order to guarantee a postseason bid.

“It’s a tough loss,” said Rochester coach Erik Vernon. “They had the fluke kick return to start, then we answered. We fumbled and they answered. It was back-and-forth. I’m proud of our kids. It’s a tough loss, but we still our goals to make the playoffs. We have to keep ourselves composed. We have to try to get that sixth win.”

Adams benefited from a lucky bounce on the game’s opening kickoff. After watching a teammate fumble the football, Phil Annese scooped up the loose ball on the Highlanders’ 21 and ran the kickoff back 79 yards to put his team up 7-0.

Rochester marched right back down the field and evened the score three plays later, when Cody Devoe scored on a 24-yard run.

Adams took the lead again with 6:45 left in the first quarter, when Tony Annese scored on a 10-yard run. The drive was aided by Chris Young, who gained a first down on a fake punt when the Highlanders were faced with a fourth-and-eight situation from the Falcons’ 48.

Rochester, which missed a 36-yard field goal later in the period, did tie the game with three ticks left in the first quarter when Bradley scored on a one-yard plunge.

Bradley connected with receiver Billy Klotz eight times for 106 yards in the opening half, but struggled after halftime.

Bradley was only 4-of-15 in the second half and finished 11-of-33 for 156 yards. Klotz had 10 catches for 132 yards and Devoe rushed for 66 yards on 15 carries, just 12 yards coming after halftime. Darren Witherspoon recovered a pair of fumbles for Rochester.

“Their (defensive) line, their front seven are strong,” conceded Vernon of Adams’ defensive play. “They just kicked our butts. All season long, it’s been whether or not our offensive line comes to play or doesn’t come to play. Today, in the second half, they didn’t.”

Rochester must record a win against winless Royal Oak in Week 9 to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999 and fourth time overall. Adams hosts Rochester Stoney Creek with a win solidifying third place in the white Division.