Detroit — Two was the magic number for Detroit East English Village in its 25-21 win over Warren De La Salle on Friday night in a Division 2 district semifinal at Wayne State University.
English was down by two, 21-19, with two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
De La Salle committed two defensive pass interference penalties on that final drive, leading to the game-winning 8-yard touchdown run by Nathaniel Boleware — his second of the night, with 13 seconds left.
“I didn’t know I was going to get the ball,” Boleware said. “I thought we were going to throw the ball in. I made a play for my team. I believed in our team and our (offensive) line.”
Boleware finished the night with 27 carries for 125 yards and two touchdowns for East English (8-2).
“We needed a signature win over one of the top teams in the state,” East English coach Roderick Oden said. “We’ve been playing teams close all four years. We needed to get over that hump and our guys needed to believe they could really finish a game and beat these guys.”
Quarterback Delvin Washington was 19-of-36 for 293 yards and two touchdowns.
For De La Salle (6-4), quarterback Josh Wilk rushed 10 times for 39 yards and a touchdown. He also completed two of five passes for 47 yards and an interception.
East English marched down the field on its first drive, but was unable to score. On the 12th play of the drive, Boleware came up two yards short on fourth-and-5.
Two drives later, De La Salle’s special teams set up a scoring opportunity for the offense. Austin Potter blocked a punt attempt by James Ceasar, and returned it to the East English 10. Four plays later, Wilson scored on a three-yard run with 11:17 to go in the second quarter.
East English answered on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Washington to Mitchell on fourth down.
De La Salle scored on its next drive — a four-yard run from Vinnie Pelioni out of the wildcat formation and led 14-7.
East English scored one more time before the end of the first half, on an eight-yard pass from Mitchell to Boleware. Ceasar missed the extra point, and De La Salle took a 14-13 lead into the half.
De La Salle started the second half with good field position, after a failed onside kick attempt by East English. It also converted on a fake punt on fourth down.
Wilk found Myles Charley on a 40-yard pass to set up a 1-yard touchdown run on a quarterback keeper. With 8:23 to go in the third quarter, De La Salle had a 21-13 lead.
East English cut into De La Salle’s lead late in the fourth quarter, on a 1-yard quarterback keeper from Washington after he found Boleware on a 23-yard pass to set up first and goal. East English failed to convert on the two-point attempt, and trailed 21-19 with 3:36 to go.
After Boleware’s go-ahead score, De La Salle had 18 seconds to complete one play. Wilk’s pass was intercepted, sealing the win for East English.
Oden said his team’s win was the biggest in its four-year history, especially because De La Salle ended its season a year ago in the playoffs.
“This team returned 18 starters who were here for that game,” he said. “The playoffs is about getting hot at the right time. They did. Hats off to them, they’re a great team. We knew that if we played our game we’d have a chance to win it.”
East English will play Grosse Pointe South next Friday for the district title.
Al Willman is a freelance writer.