A year removed from a 4-5 finish, the Melvindale ABT football team turned things around, qualifying for the playoffs with a 20-18 victory over Muskegon Heights Academy Saturday afternoon.
"It's a big win for the team," Melvindale ABT assistant coach Joe Passalaqua said. "Being able to get the win to get to the playoffs this year was great."
The two-headed run game of junior running back Shakim Fields and senior quarterback Elijah Smith paced ABT (6-3).
Fields finished with 14 carries for 112 yards and a touchdown. Smith rushed 12 times for 95 yards and two scores.
"Elijah was the leader of the team this year," Passalaqua said. "(Fields) has been the leader in the backfield."
A 3-yard touchdown from Smith in the first quarter and a 72-yarder from Fields midway through the second gave ABT an early 14-0 lead.
Javonte Kendrick scored for Muskegon Heights right before halftime, and a failed two-point conversion made the score 14-6 at the break.
Muskegon Heights scored early in the third quarter on a 13-yard run from Kendrick. The team failed on another two-point conversion, making the score 14-12.
Smith added to ABT's lead late in the third quarter on a 9-yard score. ABT failed its two-point conversion attempt, but led 20-12.
Muskegon Heights (2-7) attempted to mount a comeback early in the fourth quarter.
Jalen Harris scored, but Muskegon Heights failed its third two-point conversion attempt of the game, cutting the ABT lead to 20-18.
ABT ran out the final five minutes, sealing the win.
Passalaqua said there were two major differences between last season's 4-5 team and this year's 6-3 squad.
"Last year, we played a tough schedule," he said. "We had a lot of road games."
Besides this year's four home games, up from two last season, the team's mentality was different.
"There was more of a winning attitude from the kids this year," Passalaqua said. "The kids worked hard."
Like the rest of the playoff qualifiers, ABT will be waiting on Sunday night's playoff selection show — which airs on Fox Sports Detroit at 7 p.m. — to see who its next opponent will be.
"I expect the boys to continue to practice and play hard," Passalaqua said. "Whoever they put in front of us, we have to line up and go play."
Detroit University Prep 37, Detroit University Prep Science & Math 0: Tyree Smith had nine carries for 100 yards and a touchdown for University Prep (6-3). He also returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. Demarco Henry rushed 14 times for 80 yards and a touchdown. Demitri Williams had 11 tackles. Science & Math is 1-8.
Other football scores
Canton 35, Galesburg (IL) 14
Detroit Loyola 40, Notre Dame Prep 10
Detroit Westside Christian at Lutheran Westland, forfeit
Melvindale ABT 20, Muskegon Heights Academy 18
Saginaw Nouvel 35, Grosse Pointe University Liggett 8
Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes 49, Riverview Gabriel Richard 21
Boys soccer district scores
Ann Arbor Greenhills 8, Adrian Lenawee Christian 0
Bloomfield Hills 1, Birmingham Seaholm 0
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood 7, Auburn Hills Avondale 3
Brighton 2, Walled Lake Northern 1
Genesee Christian 2, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian 1
Grand Blanc 3, Clarkston 2
Leslie 2, Onstead 1 (SO)
Rochester Adams 1, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek 0
Royal Oak Shrine 4, Birmingham Roeper 2
Tecumseh 1, Milan 0
Utica Ford 3, Troy Athens 2