Hazel Park — El Julian Jordan tossed a pair of touchdown passes in the final 24 seconds of the opening half to help Detroit Central defeat Detroit Loyola, 32-8, on Friday night and spoil the head-coaching debut of William Tandy.
Jordan had a shaky start, misfiring on 10 of his first 13 passes. He failed to find a wide-open Jerodd Vines on the opening series, then overthrew a wide-open Vines in the end zone midway through the second quarter.
But, Jordan finally hooked up with Vines, who made a sensational catch in the left corner of the end zone, on a fourth-and-15 from the 34-yard line with 24 seconds left in the half to break up a scoreless game.
Then, Loyola — which advanced to the Division 7 state championship game in four of the previous five years — tried to make something happen in the final seconds, only to fumble a hook and ladder play at its 23 with a second left, leaving one play for Central. Jordan made the most of it.
Jordan, dropping back, looked away from Vines who was set up on the right side and found Germaine Williams near the left sideline at the 1 and Williams fell into the end zone for a 14-0 halftime cushion.
“We just took it and ran with it, put some points on the board to give us some confidence and momentum for the second half,” Jordan said of his two touchdown passes late in the half. “I had some first game jitters early so it felt to get that TD pass (to Vines). It was a good catch. He did a great job of locating the ball and holding on to it. Then, (Williams) made a nice catch too, never had two TD passes that quick before.”
Central — which advanced to the Division 6 regional final last year — forced five turnovers during the second half, turning three of them into touchdowns.
While Jordan (12-of-31, 200 yards, two touchdowns), a Western Michigan commit who threw for 3,000 yards and 31 touchdowns last season, made some big throws, it was Vines and Williams who made a difference on both sides of the ball.
Vines, a transfer from St. Clair Shores South Lake, showed why he is considered a three-star player with an offer from Toledo. He sacked Loyola quarterback Antony Reaves for a 17-yard loss on a third down at the Central 12 early in the second quarter. Reaves ended the threat with a fourth-down incompletion.
Loyola made a great defensive stand to start the second half to stay within 14-0.
Central had great field position, getting a short field to work with at its own 47. Loyola forced a punt, but made another major mistake when the ball bounced off a Loyola player and Central recovered at the 12.
However, Jordan couldn’t get the ball in the end zone and Loyola’s Corey Easterling had a fourth-down sack to get the ball back.
And, Loyola used the momentum with junior running back D’Anthony Robinson busting loose for an 80-yard TD run, breaking multiple tackles, then scoring on the two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 14-8 with 7:54 left in the third.
Loyola recovered a fumble at the Central 43-yard line on the ensuing kickoff, but failed to take advantage as Williams intercepted a fourth-down pass in the end zone.
“My team put me in position to make a play. They were coming down to score and the safety helped me," Williams said. "No. 9 (Kevin Robinson) for Loyola is a ball player and he wanted it just as much as I wanted it, but I wanted it more than he did.”
Then, after a 20-minute delay midway through the third quarter to have EMS officials cart Loyola junior D’Vaun Bently (bruised ribs) off the field, Central had a 45-yard pass from Jordan to Vines wiped away due to a holding penalty, forcing a punt that pinned Loyola back to its 10 after a third down incompletion.
And, Central forced another turnover, this time having Brandon Cooper scoop up a fumble for a 10-yard touchdown with 11:54 remaining to open up a 20-8 lead.
Loyola advanced into Central territory on its next drive, but Reaves’ fourth and 7 pass from the 47 was intercepted by Antonio Parnell who returned it 45 yards to the 24 to set up Demetrius Christian’s 3-yard fourth down run for a 26-8 lead.
“There’s a saying that defense wins championships and if we’re going to win it this year we’re going to need our defense to step up like that in big games,” Central coach Lynn Sanders said. “Jerodd Vines, our safety, came up with that sack, our cornerback Germaine Williams made that interception and linebacker Brandon Cooper had that scoop and score off the fumble, all big, big plays for us.”