Clinton Township — With 6 seconds remaining and the clock running, Jaren Mangham leaped over a pile of offensive and defensive linemen for a 1-yard touchdown that won Detroit Cass Tech its eighth consecutive Division 1 regional title, 32-26, over Clinton Township Chippewa Valley on Friday night.
“I wasn’t going to let my team down,” Mangham said. “Everybody knew I was going to get the ball. I knew I was going to punch it in. It was just a matter of executing. The offensive line came through.”
Deandre Square went up and over his defender to reel in a 47-yard pass from Aaron Jackson with 50 seconds remaining to set up the defending state champions at the Chippewa Valley 3.
After a couple of stellar stops by the Chippewa Valley defense kept the clock running, Cass Tech kept its cool for one final shot at the end zone.
“The defender was holding me at first,” Square said. “I lost track of the ball, but I found it and was able to make the play. They say big time players make big time plays in big games, and that’s what I feel like I had to do.”
It was Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher’s call to bring Square, who usually plays defensive back, onto the offensive side during the game’s crazy moments.
“I kept asking him to come over and play offense for the last few weeks,” Wilcher said. “He finally came over this week. We put him in there and that was it. The rest is history.”
The events capped a crazy fourth quarter full of twists and turns.
Senior Jalen Jennings had seemingly made the play of the year for Chippewa Valley (10-2) , bursting through the line as Cass Tech lined up to punt with less than two minutes remaining, leading 25-20. Jennings blocked the attempt and recovered the ball at the Cass Tech 12.
Two plays later, quarterback Tommy Schuster threw his fourth touchdown pass of the night, a 12-yard strike to Jacob Rybicki that made it 26-25 and sent the home crowd into a frenzy.
Cass Tech (9-2) got the ball back with just over a minute remaining at its own 24. A 26-yard run by Mangham (10 carries, 65 yards) got the ball out to midfield, and that’s when Jackson hit Square.
Jackson had struggled through the air all night, going 4-for-9 for 76 yards and a touchdown. But it was those last 47 yards to Square that made the biggest difference.
Jackson rushed for 116 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
It was a strange string of events that had helped set up the dramatic finish.
Schuster hit Austin Frederick for a 47-yard score on the first play of the fourth quarter to cut the Cass Tech lead to 25-20.
After a Teone Allen kickoff return set Cass Tech up with great field position at the Chippewa Valley 22, Jackson reeled off a 21-yard run to give his squad a first-and-goal and a shot at putting the game away.
That’s when funny things started to happen.
Cass Tech was called for three straight penalties that moved the ball back to the 24. With little kicking game to speak of, Cass Tech was forced to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 20, but Jackson came up empty as he sailed a pass into the back of the end zone.
“We blew it when we got down there,” Wilcher said. “But the offense came back in the end.
“The fourth quarter was just the team breaking down, not being focused. They let everything be a problem, but we were able to come back and fix it.”
The Cass Tech defense rushed Schuster well all night, picking up five sacks. But when the junior signal caller was given time to throw, he made Cass Tech pay with 182 yards to go with his four scores.
Marcel Lewis had three receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns for Chippewa Valley.
Geoff Robinson is a freelance writer