Brownstown — Niko France and Woodhaven ran wild to take command of first place in the Downriver League with an impressive 42-27 victory over perennial league champion Wyandotte on Friday night.
Woodhaven (7-0, 7-0) used big play after big play to score three touchdowns during a 4½-minute stretch in the third quarter to open up a 42-27 lead … and France was the catalyst.
How well did Woodhaven run the ball? Well, Woodhaven piled up a season-high 513 rushing yards (40 carries) in the option attack, led by France's 185 on 15 carries and 3 TDs.
France started the third-quarter spurt with a 42-yard TD run for a 28-21 lead with 5:51 left, coming on a fourth-and-6 when he rolled left, then reversed his field, breaking numerous tackles to reach the end zone.
"We didn't get the play we wanted or the blocks we wanted on that play, but if something goes wrong we fight and I saw a lane and took it," France said of the broken play. "All game we got a good push off the line of scrimmage and when they (offensive linemen) can move the D lineman back, it makes it easier for me to make the right read and for our backs to get downfield."
Senior fullback Jake Przybylo (10 carries, 160 yards, 2 TDs) scored on a 40-yard run and France broke loose for a 65-yard TD run during the third-quarter spurt when Woodhaven racked up 217 yards rushing on just 10 carries.
"There was a couple of times where we had things taken care of defensively and he's a good athlete, he's going to make plays," Wyandotte coach Ron Adams said of France. "Their system is sound. They dictate the matchups that they want to create. It's a tough team to defend."
It was a wild league showdown from the opening minutes with Wyandotte (5-2, 5-2) needing a win to create a possible three-way tie for the lead.
Woodhaven took a 15-0 lead in the opening quarter, piling up 181 total yards, including a 37-yard TD run by Przybylo and a 47-yard TD pass from France to Trent Bauer.
But Wyandotte showed why it is the perennial league champ, scoring 21 unanswered points during a 6 ½-minute stretch in the second quarter to take the lead.
First, senior quarterback Donovan Stewart scored on a 15-yard TD run with 7:48 left in the half.
Then, after Wyandotte recovered a fumble on the kickoff at Woodhaven's 22, Stewart found Logan Carroll for a 20-yard TD pass 1 ½ minutes later to pull within 15-14.
Wyandotte didn't stop there, using a strong defensive showing to stop Woodhaven on fourth-and-two at the Wyandotte 47. Stewart connected on three straight passes, including a 19-yard toss to Tyler Thorington which set up Cecil Greene's 2-yard run for a 21-15 lead with 1:08 remaining.
A minute left in the half … no problem for Woodhaven. On third-and-10, Przybylo broke loose for 43 yards to the Wyandotte 27 and France went on to score on a 1-yard run with 4.2 seconds left, just getting into the end zone with a timeout to take a 22-21 lead into the locker room.
Stewart completed 16-of-28 for 208 yards and 2 TDs, but had three intercepted, two by Rashad Johnson during the second half.
Stewart's biggest interception came when he rolled right, then lofted a pass in the end zone that was picked off by Johnson, preventing Woodhaven from taking the lead.
"It meant a lot to our team," Johnson said of his first interception. "I saw the quarterback roll out and our coach told us to stay on our man when he rolls out because he likes to throw on the run. I just cut in front of him (receiver) and grabbed the ball."
Yes, it was a total team effort, 580 yards by the offense and four forced turnovers by the defense.
And, Woodhaven coach Keith Christnagel had total confidence in France & Co., going for it several times on fourth down.
"That's what we do," Christnagel said of the fourth-down gambles. "Anytime we have the ball on their side of the 50 we usually go for it. On fourth down and 2, fourth down and 3, put the pressure on the defense. We run the option and it's three guys who can get the ball and you're asking high school kids on a fourth and 2 to make a decision on who they're going to get. We believe in our kids, we believe in our line and we believe the scheme that we run."
Christnagel pointed out Woodhaven earned a share of the league title two years ago, but it is going after its first outright title since the early '90s.
Friday's other games
Allen Park 44, Lincoln Park 7: Nate Berrelez had 13 rushes for 56 yards and two touchdowns for Allen Park (6-1). Rachel Caswell was 5-of-6 in extra point attempts and made a 25-yard field goal. Jose Rios rushed eight times for 75 yards, while Dylan Romo made eight tackles, including a sack, on defense.
Berkley 32, Birmingham Groves 29: Jake Cummings was 10-for-17 with 185 yards and two touchdowns, and had 19 carries for 132 yards and two touchdowns, and Michael Harvey had 10 carries for 95 yards for Berkley (6-1, 5-1 OAA Blue). Zach Van Faussien was 7-for-18 with 91 yards and a touchdown, and had eight carries for 96 yards and a touchdown, and Cedric Boswell had 23 carries for 227 yards and two touchdowns for Groves (6-1, 5-1 OAA Blue).
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood 42, Madison Heights Bishop Foley 9: Tyler Santangelo was 12-for-17 for 103 yards and a touchdown for Kingswood (4-2). Connor Paulus rushed three times for 101 yards and two touchdowns. On defense, John Pearson made eight tackles, including two sacks.
Clawson 27, Center Line 26: Ty Sparks was 11-for-19 with 179 yards and a touchdown and had a rushing touchdown for Clawson (4-3, 4-0 MAC Bronze). Donovan Holt added 19 carries for 121 yards and two touchdowns.
Dearborn 31, Dearborn Edsel Ford 0: Michael Phillips was 4-for-12 with 111 yards and a touchdown for Dearborn (4-3, 4-1). Joseph Berry rushed for 133 yards and three touchdowns.
Dearborn Fordson 21, Belleville 0: The Fordson defense forced four turnovers as the team improved to 7-0. Hassan Hachem had one interception and Michael Hazme had two fumble recoveries, all three of which eventually led to touchdowns. Adnan Silmi also had a fumble recovery. Derrick Hallman, Abdallah Jaffal and Jamil Sabbagh each rushed for touchdowns for Fordson.
Dearborn Heights Robichaud 47, Dearborn Heights Annapolis 0: William Melchor had 10 carries for 112 yards and four touchdowns for Robichaud (7-0). Mercer Bryson caught three passes for 45 yards and a touchdown. He also made 13 tackles and a sack on defense. Orlando Rue made six tackles and returned an interception 65 yards for a touchdown.
Detroit Central 20, Southestern 0: Darius Lynaum was 16-for-22 with 285 yards and a touchdown for Central (4-3). Davon Pitts rushed for 137 yards and scored on a 62-yard touchdown run.
Detroit Cody 42, Detroit Pershing 0: Omar Salih was 10-for-15 with 180 yards and three touchdowns for Cody (4-3, 4-2 PSL). Michael Drayton had a 30-yard touchdown reception, and Jayvonte Ball had 15 carries for 185 yards and three touchdowns.
Detroit East English Village 13, Detroit Denby 0: Nate Boleware had 10 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown for East English (5-2). Kamahl March made eight tackles, including three sacks, and had an interception. Denby is 4-3.
Detroit Frederick Douglass 18, Detroit CMA 0: Darian Murphy was 4-for-11 with 92 yards and a touchdown for Douglass (1-5). James Moore had a touchdown and two interceptions on defense, and Dajuan Webster rushed six times for 89 yards and a touchdown.
Detroit Martin Luther King 56, Detroit Western 0: Mikale Washington was 9-for-18 with 175 yards and three touchdowns for Martin Luther King (7-0). Dontra Boyd and Donnnie Corley each scored three touchdowns.
Detroit Northwestern 24, Detroit Osborn 14: Danny Whitt was 10-for-21 with 128 yards and a touchdown for Northwestern (4-3). Tyrell Watts had 19 carries for 103 yards and two touchdowns, and John Dozier had four catches for 68 yards and a touchdown. On defense, Jaquez Williams made 10 tackles.
Detroit Old Redford 47, Detroit Plymouth Educational Academy 0: Malichi Mosely was 4-for-5 with two touchdowns, and had a fumble recovery and an interception on defense for Old Redford (4-3). Dasi Smith added 11 carries for 152 yards and three touchdowns, and D'Amontae Redmond had two sacks, two tackles for a loss, and a forced fumble. Detroit PEC is 1-6.
Detroit Renaissance 26, Detroit Henry Ford 14: Kyle Lewis had a 31-yard touchdown run, and Mark Wilson had three touchdowns including an 80-yard interception return for a touchdown for Renaissance (5-2, 5-1 PSL).
Detroit University Prep 30, Southfield Bradford Academy 6: Roderick Harris rushed for 92 yards and two touchdowns for University Prep (5-2). Tyree Smith rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown, and Michael Stafford caught a 40-yard touchdown pass and made three sacks on defense. Gabriel Miller also had three sacks.
Farmington 54, Hazel Park 0: Dez Fitzpatrick had two touchdowns, and Kyle Collins was 7-for-10 with 133 yards and three touchdowns and a rushing touchdown for Farmington (6-1). Hazel Park is 0-7.
Fraser 24, St. Clair Shores Lakeview 20: Dylan Walker had 13 carries for 67 yards and two touchdowns for Fraser (4-3). Dominic Nielke added 21 carries for 105 yards, and Marcus Bowers had 25 carries for 151 yards.
Grosse Pointe South 33, Utica 8: Sam Blanzy was 13-for-20 with 169 yards and two touchdowns for South (3-4, 2-2 MAC White). Kumehnnu Gwilly had 26 carries for 182 yards and a touchdown for Utica (2-5, 1-3).
Hamtramack 50, Detroit Allen Academy 14: Angelo Santroy had 13 carries for 175 yards a two touchdowns, and Sherron Carter had 120 yards receiving a touchdown for Hamtramck (3-4).
Livonia Churchill 49, Livonia Franklin 27: Paul Romain had 14 carries for 224 yards and two touchdowns for Churchill (6-1). He also had a 21-yard touchdown catch. Steve Szymanski made 14 tackles, scored on a 50-yard kickoff return and a 25-yard interception return.
Livonia Stevenson 21, Plymouth Salem 7: Chris Tanderys was 14-for-21 with 208 yards and two touchdowns for Stevenson (5-2, 4-1 KLAA Central). C.J. Weiss added seven catches for 123 yards, Frank Carlin had six catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns, and Austin Petrie had 19 carries for 144 yards and a touchdown. Salem is 1-6, 1-4.
Madison Heights Lamphere 27, New Haven 14: Trevor Guilmette had 26 carries for 235 yards and two touchdowns and Austin Frederick had one passing and one rushing touchdown for Lamphere (2-5).
Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 33, Riverview 0: Justin Carrabino had 21 carries for 145 yards and two touchdowns, and 3 catches for 18 yards and a touchdown for Catholic Central (7-0, 6-0 Huron). Riverview is 5-2, 4-2.
Northville 45, Novi 14: P.J. Schnepp had 29 carries for 173 yards and three touchdowns and Justin Zimbo had 19 carries for 160 yards and two touchdowns for Northville (5-2).
Oak Park 45, Birmingham Seaholm 25: John Kelly had an 85-yard touchdown run, and an 81-yard punt return for a TD, while Marvin White added a 98-yard kickoff return for a TD for Oak Park (6-1, 6-0 OAA White). Quarterback Tommy Sheppard accounted for three touchdowns (two passing) for Seaholm (2-5, 2-4).
Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 44, Macomb Lutheran North 6: Luke Adams had 143 rushing yards and two touchdowns for Notre Dame Prep. Charles Kruse was 19-for-39 passing with 247 yards and one touchdown for Lutheran North (2-5).
Rochester Adams 44, North Farmington 23: Clarence Broadnax had 17 carries for 190 yards and three touchdowns for Adams (3-4). Corey Deale scored on a 20-yard touchdown run and Mark Patritto scored on 20-yard fumble recovery.
Rochester Hills Stoney Creek 41, Troy Athens 18: Joe Platz had 23 carries for 119 yards and two touchdowns, a receiving touchdown, and an interception return for a touchdown for Stoney Creek (4-3, 3-3 OAA Red). Jack Allen had 185 yards passing with two touchdowns, and 97 yards rushing with a touchdown. Athens is 1-6, 0-6.
Romulus 18, Garden City 16: Darius Jackson had 167 yards passing with two touchdowns, and 109 yards rushing and a touchdown for Romulus (5-2). Oscar Brown added 106 yards rushing and a touchdown. Caron Davis had nine tackles, including two sacks.Tyler Hubbs had 17 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown for Garden City (3-4).
South Lyon 43, South Lyon East 13: Connor McGee had 13 carries for 73 yards and one touchdown for South Lyon (6-1).
Trenton 26, Melvindale 7: Christian Mercure was 7-for-11 with 74 yards and had a rushing touchdown for Trenton (4-3).
Utica Henry Ford 25, New Baltimore Anchor Bay 7: Nolan Reager was 9-for-19 with 144 yards and two touchdowns for Henry Ford (4-3). Shane Shkreli was 3-for-7 with 44 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed eight times for 116 yards.
Walled Lake Western 31, Walled Lake Central 14: Kyle Thomas was 7-for-16 with 70 yards and one touchdown and had 14 carries for 113 yards and one touchdown for Western (6-1). Nick Crumb had 18 carries for 174 yards and one touchdown for Central (5-2).
Warren De La Salle 24, University of Detroit Jesuit 7: Myles Charley caught two passes for 49 yards and a touchdown for De La Salle (4-3). Cole Paczas had nine carries for 74 yards, and Michael Danna had two sacks, three tackles for loss and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Warren Michigan Collegiate 61, Harper Woods 0: Brendan Roberts was 7-for-10 with 139 yards and two touchdowns, and Alden Roberson and Shawn Jackson each had two touchdowns for Collegiate (7-0).
Warren Mott 21, Sterling Heights Stevenson 17: Tylen Redding caught a 26-yard touchdown catch for Mott (4-3, 2-2 MAC Red). Jayvon Wilson had 20 carries for 105 yards, and Connor Madigan rushed for two touchdowns.
Westland John Glenn 52, Wayne Memorial 12: Kimari Johnson had 16 carries for 147 yards and a touchdown for Glenn (4-3). Joe Bob Walker was 4-for-20 with 134 yards and two touchdowns for Memorial (0-7).
News staff contributed