Sabers come from behind, hammer Mesick 52-24

Manistee Catholic quarterback Preston Picardat (8) breaks into the open field, running ahead of teammate Mateo Barnett,  during the Sabers’ 52-24 win over Mesick Friday night. (Kyle Kotecki/News Advocate)

Manistee Catholic quarterback Preston Picardat (8) breaks into the open field, running ahead of teammate Mateo Barnett, during the Sabers’ 52-24 win over Mesick Friday night. (Kyle Kotecki/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — As the old saying goes, it’s not how you start, but how you finish.

Such was the case when Manistee Catholic Central hosted Mesick in a West Michigan D League contest Friday.

After finding themselves trailing 12-0 with just 136 seconds ticked off the clock the Sabers (3-1 overall, 2-1 West Michigan D League) rattled off the next 52 points before the Bulldogs (1-3, 1-1) managed to score again en route to a 52-24 Manistee Catholic victory.

“We had a rough start,” said Manistee Catholic Central football coach Jake Szymanski. “… Not the way we wanted to start but we definitely enjoy the finish.”

Quarterback Preston Picardat was the first Saber to find the end zone with a 31-yard touchdown scamper with 3:01 left in the first frame. The Sabers pulled to within four points after Mateo Barnett crossed the goal line on the two-point conversion.

MCC capped off a 10-play drive with an 18-yard pass from Picardat to Devon Jackson early in the second quarter. After Brayden Perkins completed the two-point conversion with a sweep, the Sabers enjoyed a 16-12 lead heading into halftime.

“We started off slow,” Picardat said. “I’m just proud of my team because we played through adversity. We had some dumb plays at the beginning. Our offensive line picked it up and I’m just proud of them. Our offensive line picked it up.”

Manistee Catholic exploded for 28 points in the third quarter while holding Mesick scoreless. Barnett scored three touchdowns in the quarter, returning the second half’s opening kick for a score, and rushing for 47- and 45-yard touchdowns. Picardat chipped in with a 62-yard rushing touchdown of his own and the Sabers held a 44-12 lead heading into the final stanza.

“Mateo (Barnett) is phenomenal,” Szymanski said. “He was a little banged up tonight. We’re going to hopefully get him a little healthier for next week but you saw what he was like on pretty much one leg so getting him with two legs in the upcoming weeks is going to be fun to see.”

After Mesick recovered a Saber fumble, Picardat picked off a Bulldog pass and returned it for a touchdown. Barnett completed the two-point conversion to give Manistee Catholic a 52-12 advantage.

Picardat passed 2-for-10 for 18 yards a touchdown, rushed 11 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns and recorded two interceptions, one of which went for a score. Barnett rushed 12 times for 126 yards and two scores and returned a kickoff for a score. John Slivka led the team in tackes with 11 and had a sack. Josue Hernandez added nine tackles and a sack while Justin Stickney recorded eight tackles.

The Bulldogs took advantage of short field after a turnover on downs with a 16-yard rushing touchdown with 3:20 left in the game. The Sabers denied the two-point conversion and were able to kneel out the clock shortly thereafter.

“We’ve been talking about adversity every week,” Szymanski said. “Adversity and the situations that we get put in and us putting our heads down. That was a prime example — those first two minutes — where we easily could’ve put our heads down like we have most of the season. We picked our heads up. These guys brushed it off. We battled back, took the lead and never looked back.”

The Sabers next travel to Baldwin for another WMDL matchup Friday at 7 p.m.

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