Friday's football playoffs: King edges River Rouge in defensive tussle

By David Goricki
The Detroit News

Detroit — Ray Williams and No. 10 Detroit King put on an outstanding defensive performance Friday night to earn a 7-6 victory over No. 20 River Rouge in a Division 3 predistrict showdown.

Detroit King’s Jaylen Reed celebrates recovering a fumble by River Rouge quarterback Emmanuel Ferguson in the end zone in the second quarter. King defeated River Rouge 7-6 in the Division 3 pre-district game Friday.

King (8-2) suffered a one-sided 42-8 loss to No. 1 Detroit Cass Tech in the PSL championship game a week ago, but wasn’t about to let its season come to an end.

Williams made sure he played a big role.

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Williams was all over the field in the opening half to put an end to two River Rouge drives deep in King territory.

River Rouge (8-2) dominated early, only to trail 7-0 at halftime.

River Rouge held a 140-35 edge in total yards late in the first half, but Williams made sure King would keep River Rouge out of the end zone.

Early in the second quarter, River Rouge went on a 70-yard drive only to have Williams hit Ferguson on a third-and-goal from the 2, forcing a fumble in the end zone that was recovered by King’s Jaylen Reed.

“That was a game changer for us,” King coach Tyrone Spencer said. “In the locker room, I told them we have to refuse to lose and that was an example of refusing to lose. Our defense didn’t give up any points, they just scored on the scoop and score.”

Said Williams: “We knew we had to force a turnover and I hit him (Ferguson), really we all put hats on him and forced the ball out. We played great team football and rallied to the ball all game and came out a winner.”

Yes, King did. On River Rouge’s next drive, Ferguson gained 16 yards on an option run to get his team into River Rouge territory before suffering a shoulder injury when he was hit hard by Jaylen Reed at the King 35. He was sidelined the remainder of the game.

Slot back Daraun McKinney replaced Ferguson and took the snap on third-and 4-from the 35, picking up the first down before Williams forced yet another fumble with Rishad Hence pouncing on the ball at the King 14 with 2:03 left in the half.

Then, Central Michigan-bound quarterback Dequan Finn led King on a 13-play, 86-yard drive, causing damage with his legs and arm.

Finn found RaShawn Williams down the right sideline for 37 yards to the River Rouge 27, then on third-and-10 from the 18, Finn avoided the blitz and found Dominick Polidore-Hannah over the middle for an 18-yard score with seven seconds left in the half.

“Watching film we noticed they liked to blitz on third down so we called the screen up the middle, that was their weak spot and we hit it,” said Finn of his TD pass.

Williams wasn’t finished, recovering a fumble on the ensuing kickoff at River Rouge 35. Finn passed to Peny Boone, who was tackled at the 11 as time expired.

River Rouge continued to hurt itself when a motion penalty nullified a long pass play to the King 10 in the third quarter.

River Rouge’s lone TD came on a defensive play with 11:03 remaining when Yusuf Abdul Aziz cut in front of a receiver and intercepted a Finn pass at the King 35, then fumbled near the 15 where teammate and Clemson-bound defensive end Ruke Orhorhoro scooped the ball up and scored to pull within 7-6.

River Rouge failed to pull even when the snap on the point-after attempt was high and the holder was tackled while attempting to run.

River Rouge had one more chance to pull out the victory, but on third-and-6 from its own 45 Purdue-bound linebacker Marvin Grant sacked backup quarterback Mehki Hunt with just under five minutes remaining.

King then picked up three first downs with Boone (96 yards, 16 carries) running for 16 and 24 yards and Finn picking up five to the River Rouge 29 on a third-and-4 with 1:21 left, which enabled King to run out the clock.

More Friday games

Division 1

Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 34, Utica Eisenhower 7: Andre Chenault had 22 carries for 182 yards and four touchdowns, and Jonathan Zak had 10 tackles for Chippewa Valley (10-0). Eisenhower is 6-4.

Division 2

Birmingham Brother Rice 27, Livonia Churchill 14: Quarterback Greg Piscopink completed 15 of 19 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns, James Donaldson had 23 carries for 177 yards and a 43-yard rushing touchdown, Brendan Holt and DaRon Gilbert caught touchdown passes and Patrick O’Hara made nine catches for 77 yards for Brother Rice (7-3).

Walled Lake Western 24, Fenton 9: Sam Johnson (Boston College) went 9-for-16 passing for 176 yards, one passing and one rushing touchdown, and Kevin Jackson had two scores for Western (7-3). Fenton is 6-4.

Division 3

Allen Park 23, Riverview 20: Nico Tiberia ran it 23 times for 151 yards and two TDs and kicker John Klein made a 29-yard field goal for Allen Park (8-2). Dominic Wood had seven carries for 150 yards and Joe Johnson scored two rushing touchdowns for Riverview (7-3).

Farmington 42, Avondale 9: Kendall Williams had 20 carries for 165 yards and five touchdowns, plus a 51-yard fumble recovery touchdown, and Delmon Sewell had 22 carries for 150 yards for Farmington (7-3). Avondale is 7-3.

Warren Woods Tower 47, Garden City 7: Quarterback Matt Bills rushed for 225 yards on 13 carries and scored three touchdowns to go with 120 yards through the air, and CJ Shier made 20 tackles for Woods Tower (9-1). Garden City finished 6-4.

Division 4

North Branch 44, Croswell-Lexington 41: Nathan Farsworth had a touchdown catch and three interceptions, and Gerrid Rutledge had two passing scores, one rushing touchdown, two two-point conversions and four tackles for North Branch (8-2). Croswell-Lexington is 6-4.

Division 5

Detroit Denby 41, Detroit Osborn 0: Tavion Buck had 167 yards passing, 15 yards rushing and three passing touchdowns, Malik Gaines had 107 yards receiving and two scores, and John Moreland had a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown, a 30-yard touchdown catch, 12 tackles and two tackles for loss for Denby (8-2). Osborn is 6-4.

Harper Woods 52, Macomb Lutheran North 13: Jake Mlynarek had 16 carries for 79 yards and one touchdown for North (7-3). Harper Woods is 8-2.

Division 6

Ecorse 61, Warren Michigan Collegiate 18: Andrew Holston caught three touchdown passes, Keyshawn Smith ran in for two scores while racking up 250 yards rushing, and punter Latrell Tompkins raced 65 yards for a TD on a fumbled snap for Ecorse (8-2).

Division 8

Dansville 29, Sterling Heights Parkway Christian 20: Maurice Hutchinson had 10 carries for 125 yards and three touchdowns plus 12 tackles, Robert Thompson had nine carries for 93 yards and went 4-for-5 passing for 73 yards and 10 tackles, and Julian Davis had 11 carries for 83 yards and four pass breakups for Parkway (9-1). Dansville is 7-3.

Detroit Southeastern 24, Detroit Public Safety 6: Running back Joe Thomas had 10 carries for 111 yards, Monte Jones went 7-for-13 passing for 140 yards and two touchdowns, Peter Jeter made 10 tackles and three sacks, Dionte Barley had 15 tackles and Wayne Crump made eight tackles and two sacks for Southeastern (7-3). Public Safety finished 7-3.

Detroit News staff contributed.