Detroit — Oak Park took Adams Field on Friday night looking to make some history in its Division 2 regional championship game against Warren De La Salle.
Oak Park was attempting to bring home its first regional championship in program history while trying to prevent De La Salle from earning its first regional title since winning the state championship in 2014.
Well, De La Salle earned a 14-7 victory, coming up with a huge 11-play, game-winning 85-yard drive with senior quarterback Luke Pfromm completing a 37-yard pass to Jacob Badalamenti on a third-and-14 play from the 11, then finding Evan Vaillancourt for 32 yards to the Oak Park 7 to set up Pfromm’s 2-yard TD run with 45 seconds left.
Vaillancourt's reception was followed by an Oak Park penalty for having 12 players on the field.
“It was a big catch," Vaillancourt said. "I fumbled earlier in the game and everybody had my back and that motivated me to make that catch.
"I want to cry, this is the happiest I’ve been in a while.”
Oak Park had one chance, but junior quarterback Dwan Mathis, a Michigan State commit, was intercepted by Joshua DeBerry.
“We knew that coming in that it was on us, the defense to set the tone, then on that final drive to step up and make a play,” DeBerry said. “I prepared and studied film on him (Mathis) and I had to stay confident and play like the best player on the field at all time.”
De La Salle — 10-2 and ranked No. 7 in The News Super 20 poll — entered the game with consecutive shutouts to win the district championship, including a 46-0 pre-district win over Ferndale and a 50-0 title win over Port Huron Northern.
Well, the postseason shutout streak ended quickly when Torriano Richardson broke loose for a 60-yard TD run on the second play from scrimmage to give Oak Park a 7-0 lead.
However, De La Salle’s defense played well all night, holding Mathis (0-for-9) without a completion. Richardson, younger brother of Tennessee running back John Kelly, rushed for 122 yards on 13 carries and a TD.
De La Salle advanced inside Oak Park territory on its first two drives, the first one ending with Pfromm’s pass being intercepted by Corion Montgomery at the Oak Park 19.
Pfromm made sure De LaSalle would score on its second drive, scoring on a 1-yard quarterback sneak to finish off an 11-play, 43-yard drive.
“It was a dogfight all night," Pfromm said. "We knew it would be a battle. On that last drive, I just knew we had to get it done and get in the end zone. Our defense was saving our butts all game. We were backed up at the 10, one broken coverage play, we got the momentum and then punched it in.”
And, after an Oak Park penalty, De La Salle coach Mike Giannone opted to go for the 2-point conversion, with Oak Park coming up big with a stop on the run.
De La Salle had a 2-1 advantage in total plays (32-16) in the first half, but two turnovers hurt, including a fumble at the Oak Park 28 with 4:11 left in the second quarter when Calvin Fair’s knocked the ball out of Evan Vaillancourt’s hands with sophomore Justin Rogers — who has an offer from Ohio State — recovering.
It looked like De La Salle had a huge break on the final play of the half.
After an interference call on De La Salle gave Oak Park an untimed down at the De La Salle 20, a De La Salle defender tackled an Oak Park receiver with the ball still in the air, but no penalty was called.
De La Salle had a short field to work with after the ball sailed over the head of Oak Park’s punter, giving it the ball at Oak Park’s 39, but Damon Trapp sacked Pfromm on a fourth-and-6 play to end the threat, giving the ball to Oak Park near midfield.
Then, Oak Park moved inside De La Salle’s 3 after Graham replaced Mathis and found Jesse Brown for 10 yards.
That was followed by a 37-yard run by Richardson.
Oak Park’s scoring chance ended though when Graham fumbled a snap on third and goal from the 3, losing 6 yards and his fourth-down pass for Maliq Carr in the end zone was incomplete.
Riverview 36, Dearborn Divine Child 31: Zach Warlick had eight carries for 116 yards and three touchdowns and Zach Guthrie ran 14 times, picking up two touchdowns and 100 yards for Riverview (11-1, 6-1). Theo Day picked up 151 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries while finishing 17-for-28 through the air for 132 yards for Divine Child (10-2, 3-0).
Warren Michigan Collegiate 32, Blissfield 6: Jamire Cannon returned a kick return 80 yards to the house, Jaquez Hall had a 42-yard rushing touchdown, and Tracy Hubbard and Doug Rogers both scored on 5-yard rushing touchdowns for Collegiate (12-0, 4-0). Blissfield finished 7-5, 4-3.