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‘Dangerous’ Cass Tech zooms past Oak Park

By Al Willman
Special to The Detroit News
Donovan Peoples-Jones

Detroit – For Detroit Cass Tech, it was worth the wait.

The No. 1 team in the state, as ranked by The Detroit News, Cass Tech got off to a slow start but eventually sprinted past Oak Park 45-27 in the a Prep Kickoff Classic game on Sunday at Wayne State.

The game had been scheduled for Saturday evening but was postponed until Sunday afternoon when lightning delayed Saturday’s first two games at Wayne State.

“We definitely wanted to play last night,” said Cass Tech star receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, who had three catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns. “Whatever the venue is, we’re going to come out and play Cass Tech football.”

Cass Tech quarterback Rodney Hall, a Northern Illinois commit, finished 9-of-15 for 77 yards and a touchdown, and he also had 10 carries for 70 yards and a touchdown.

Aaron Jackson also saw time in Cass Tech’s two-quarterback attack, going 3-for-3 for 101 yards, with both touchdowns to Peoples-Jones.

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For Oak Park, Dwan Mathis was 7-of-20 for 268 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Najee Trinity scored Oak Park’s first touchdown on a 3-yard run, set up by an 18-yard pass from Mathis. With 8:43 left in the first quarter, Oak Park had a 7-0 lead.

After Mathis was intercepted on a bad pass, Cass Tech took five plays to go 38 yards, ending with a 1-yard touchdown from Hall on the keeper.

On the next drive, Mathis found Keveon Clark for an 80-yard touchdown catch-and-run, and Oak Park was back on top, 14-7.

Coach Thomas Wilcher replaced Hall with Jackson to start the second quarter. On Jackson’s first pass attempt, he found Peoples-Jones for a 37-yard touchdown. With 8:25 left in the half, the game was tied, 14-14.

“We’re real dangerous,” Peoples-Jones said. “We’re dangerous because we’re versatile. We’ve got so many athletes on this team.”

Oak Park retook the lead, 21-14, midway through the second quarter. On second-and-19, Mathis found Kevin Bradley for a 64-yard touchdown.

There was a scary moment on the play. Cass Tech defensive backs Jaylen Kelly-Powell and Donovan Williams collided, trying to tackle Bradley. Both were down near midfield, motionless for a couple minutes, but got up slowly. Both returned to the game in the third quarter.

Donovan Johnson, on the ensuing kickoff, returned it 83 yards for a touchdown, and with 6:25 left, it was 21-21.

“It was kind of a short punt,” Johnson said. “It rolled to me. I looked and (a lane) just opened up. I just ran, and I knew I had the touchdown before I started running.”

Two drives later, Cass Tech took the lead for the first time. Hall, who came back into the game to start the drive, found Jaren Manghum on an 11-yard touchdown. With 4:22 left until halftime, Cass Tech was ahead, 28-21.

“We didn’t need a back-and-forth to get going,” Wilcher said. “We just needed to get going. We just needed ourselves to play football.”

Two drives into the third quarter, Oak Park chipped into the Cass Tech lead. Cashual Goldsmith ran to the left for the 7-yard touchdown. The extra point was no good and with 2:29 left in the third, Cass Tech led 31-27.

Cass Tech got the points back on its next drive. Jackson connected with Peoples-Jones on a 58-yard touchdown for a 38-27 lead.

Al Willman is a freelance writer.

Twitter @AlWillmanSports