Detroit — Detroit Renaissance started fast, but it ultimately wasn’t enough against No. 2-ranked Detroit Cass Tech on Friday afternoon.
Renaissance scored on its opening possession, but host Cass Tech dominated after the first quarter in a 62-19 Detroit Public School League victory.
Renaissance (1-3) got off to a quick start on the opening drive, which was given new life by a Cass Tech roughing-the-punter penalty.
Alante Thomas took a Jason Johnson handoff 37 yards to the house to give the underdog a 7-0 lead.
It didn’t take long for Cass Tech to assert itself as the top dog in this crosstown meeting as quarterback Rodney Hall took the offense 71 yards down the field and scored on a 2-yard keeper to tie the game at 7-7.
The game began sloppily with three penalties in the first minute and a half, but both teams quickly settled in and it was evident the pregame jitters were gone.
While Cass Tech was playing well on offense, its defense just couldn’t get a stop in the first quarter, giving up two more touchdown runs to Thomas of three and 76 yards, respectively.
“We had a (heck) of a first quarter,” Renaissance coach Lou Beatty said. “After the third possession, we ran a screen and after that (Cass Tech) just lit up. They just kept scoring.”
The turning point in the game may have been a 39-yard punt return by Cass Tech junior receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, which extended the lead to 29-19 with 10 seconds left in the first.
Cass Tech (4-0) didn’t look back after that, pushing its lead to 42-19 by halftime and then sealing the deal with an impressive second half.
Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher was impressed with how his team responded from an early first-quarter deficit and the possibility of an upset brewing. Wilcher said the turning point actually happened on the defensive side of the ball.
“Really, it was us just stopping (Renaissance),” Wilcher said. “The defense had to get together and try to somehow figure out how to stop them.”
For a rivalry, the game was relatively tame. That was until the third quarter when the two teams were getting into it a bit and had to be restrained by coaches.
Hall finished with the best offensive game of anyone, racking up 206 yards through the air, another 74 on the ground and scoring six total touchdowns.
Wilcher had just one word to describe his QB: “Solid.”
The junior is on a tear right now, accounting for 11 total touchdowns in the past two games combined.
Cass Tech’s victory keeps its seven-year home win streak in the alive. It hasn’t fallen on its own turf since 2008.
Connor Muldowney is a freelance writer.