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Woodhaven rallies to Prep Kickoff Classic victory

Geoff Robinson
The Detroit News

Detroit — In a game that set offensive records at the Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State, it was Woodhaven’s defense that stepped up in the second half and paved the way for a 17-point comeback and 52-49 victory Thursday against Downriver League foe Lincoln Park.

The 101 total points set a PKC record in the 12th year of the event, surpassing a 44-42 victory by Detroit Cass Tech over Ann Arbor Pioneer in 2010.

After finding itself down 49-32 with just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter, Woodhaven, powered by senior quarterback Alex Theisen, scored 20 unanswered points to complete the comeback.

Theisen led a six-play, 67-yard drive to cut the Lincoln Park lead to 49-46 with 8:36 remaining. After the Woodhaven defense forced a punt that netted only 7 yards, it was again in business at the Lincoln Park 38.

Lincoln Park’s defense dug in, forcing a fourth-and-2, but senior running back Raequan Castelow (14 carries, 112 yards, two touchdowns) scooted for 9 yards and a first down. He took it to the house just two plays later from 16 yards out to put Woodhaven ahead for the first time.

After getting the ball back with 1:54 remaining, Lincoln Park was able to mount a drive into Woodhaven territory. With every target seemingly going Devon Carson’s way, Woodhaven keyed on the receiver and was able to win the game with its secondary play.

“I knew we could score, but we had to get stops,” Woodhaven coach Keith Christnagel said. “We missed so many tackles in the first half. We made some adjustments and brought some pressure, and we were able to make some plays.”

The offenses combined for 940 yards, including 662 in the first half alone.

Elijah Cross was Mr. Everything for Lincoln Park in the first half, but a leg injury early in the second half seemed to limit his effectiveness. Lincoln Park was able to get what it needed without its biggest playmaker for at least one series following the injury scare, scoring on a 5-yard DeAngelo Taylor run that gave it its biggest lead of the game, 49-32.

Theisen wouldn’t be denied. He did it with both his legs and his arm, finishing with 20 carries for 202 yards and a touchdown on the ground, while going 12-for-16 through the air with four touchdowns and two interceptions.

“I knew we could get it done,” Theisen said. “I’ve never been in a situation like this. Biggest game of my life and I never wanted to win anything more than this. It was a great game.”

Cameron Morenski was the biggest benefactor on the outside for Woodhaven, reeling in six receptions for 74 yards and two touchdowns.

Cross carried the ball 15 times for 146 yards and two touchdowns for Lincoln Park, though he ran just five times for 13 yards in the second half.

“They started stopping our run game in the second half and got the momentum,” Lincoln Park coach Jamie Grignon said. “(Cross) was cramping a little bit, but (Theisen) played a great game, a crazy game.”

Through the air, Cross was 7-for-14 for 125 yards and a touchdown.

Taylor carried the ball nine times for 53 yards and two touchdowns for Lincoln Park.

Geoff Robinson is a freelance writer