Detroit — It wasn't an easy, breezy Saturday afternoon for undefeated Detroit King in its Division 2 predistrict with University of Detroit Jesuit. But The Detroit News' No. 1-ranked team made more plays when it counted and came out on top, 35-24.
Martell Pettaway scored his second touchdown of the day from 13 yards out with just over a minute remaining to seal the deal for King (10-0) on a nine-play, 80-yard drive that almost stalled twice.
Facing third-and-10 from its own 20 and leading 28-24, King quarterback Armani Posey threw up a jump ball to Donnie Corley, who went up and over two defenders to reel in a 36-yard catch and first down in Jesuit territory. Three plays later, King was faced with a choice from the Jesuit 37 on fourth-and-3. Coach Dale Harvel decided to roll the dice and go for it instead of punting. The call was for a play that had worked well all day, a counter run with Kevin Willis. The play went for 23 yards and set up the game-winning score.
"This team stepped up and did the things they had to do to win," Harvel said. "Now we get to play four more quarters next week."
From the beginning, it was clear that this wasn't going to be a cakewalk for King. If someone had showed up 10 minutes late to the start of the game, they would have missed a lot of action.
With conditions windy and cold, Jesuit kicked the ball off to King to open things up, but the ball bounced around and through the legs of two King players before Jesuit covered it up inside the King 10. Two plays later, Yusuf Lewis took it in from eight yards out to make it 7-0 Jesuit.
On the ensuing kickoff, Lavert Hill added to the exciting start with an 80-yard kickoff return for King to tie the game at 7-7.
After Jesuit had gained good field position for its first shot at a sustained drive, quarterback Scott Nelson fumbled the exchange with Lewis and King took over at midfield. On the very next play, Nelson redeemed himself when he intercepted Posey and went 55 yards for a touchdown that put Jesuit up 14-7.
One minute and eight seconds had gone off the clock, and the game had already seen three touchdowns.
King put together a 69-yard drive that was capped by Pettaway's first touchdown, this one coming from 14 yards out. After the ensuing kickoff was fumbled away by Jesuit, Posey found fullback Lawrence Bryant for a six-yard touchdown to give King its first lead at 21-14.
The defenses settled in and forced a few punts, but Jesuit added a 32-yard field goal before the half to pull within four at 21-17.
Jesuit (6-4) took the lead on a 46-yard touchdown run by Nelson to open up the second half. The quarterback did a nice job of pulling the ball into his chest on the option and bouncing it outside for the score.
It was now 24-21 in favor of the underdogs.
That's when King responded with a 12-play, 75-yard drive that Posey capped with a 19-yard touchdown on third-and-8 to Corley.
Jesuit had its chance in the fourth quarter, as it put together a 14-play drive that was sparked by a fake punt near midfield that went for 13 yards and a first down in King territory. Having moved all the way down to the King 32, Jesuit started going the wrong way as the King defensive line sacked Nelson and forced a punt.
"They're a tough group," Harvel said of his team. "They've faced adversity on and off the football field, but they fought back and came out a lot better in the second half."
Posey finished 9-for-17 for 173 yards and two touchdowns for King. Corley hauled in seven receptions for 125 yards and a score.
Nelson ran for 102 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries for Jesuit.
With the win, King moves on to the district finals against Wyandotte Roosevelt.
More predistrict football
Detroit Country Day 36, Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy 0: Larry Penson had 17 carries for 117 yards and two touchdowns, Lenard Graham had a 26-yard run for a touchdown and Mike Maclean had 11 tackles for Country Day (9-1).
Detroit University Prep 46, Detroit Central Collegiate 6: Tyree Smith accounted for 318 all-purpose yards with six touchdowns, including an 80-yard pick six, and Craig Harris led the defense with eight tackles for University Prep (7-3).