'Big-time players' lead Cass Tech over King

Geoff Robinson
Special to The Detroit News
Cass Tech players, from left, Tyler Milliner, Jaron Mangham, Jamison Brown and Kalon Gervin celebrate their 31-18 win over King on Saturday.

(Max Ortiz/ The Detroit News)2016

Detroit — It wasn’t the prettiest offensive game from either side, but Detroit Cass Tech made the big plays and used a 17-point second quarter to propel itself to a 31-18 victory over Public School League rival Detroit King on Saturday afternoon.

The win is revenge of sorts for Cass Tech, which lost twice to King last year, including in the PSL championship.

After a scoreless first quarter, the first big play of the day on a muddy field came when Donovan Peoples-Jones reeled in a pass over the middle, fighting off defenders and breaking free. He appeared on his way to an 89-yard touchdown, but Ambry Thomas caught him from behind and hauled him down at the six. Cass Tech settled for a 27-yard field goal from Luis Borjas to go up 3-0 early in the second quarter.

After King punted from its end zone, Cass Tech took advantage of good field position. Donovan Parker skied over defensive back Jesse Scarber for the game’s first touchdown on a pass from quarterback Rodney Hall, putting Cass Tech up 10-0 with just under five minutes to play before halftime.

On its next possession, Donovan Johnson scored on a 69-yard run on the first play of the drive and Cass Tech took a 17-0 lead into the half.

“Big-time players are supposed to make big-time plays,” Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher said. “As long as you’ve got those type of players, you can make mistakes and correct them.”

Mistakes were frequent in this game. Cass Tech totaled 14 penalties for 90 yards, while King committed seven for 40 yards.

After falling behind 24-0 in the third quarter, King (5-1, 1-1) got a boost from an 83-yard kickoff return from Jae’Veyon Morton to cut the Cass Tech lead to 24-6.

The King defense was able to force a three-and-out to get the ball back at midfield for its offense. After a frustrating first three quarters, Kevin Willis had his first big run of the day, busting through the line for 41 yards to the Cass Tech nine. His team couldn’t take advantage, though, as a couple of bad snaps cost the Crusaders a chance to cut into the deficit.

It was Johnson who made King pay, essentially sealing the game for Cass Tech (6-0, 2-0) by taking a screen pass 83 yards for a score to put Cass Tech up 31-6 early in the fourth quarter.

“As soon as I got the ball in my hands, I knew I was going to score a touchdown,” Johnson said. “This is what I expected. I knew King had no chance against us.”

Johnson had four rushes for 78 yards and a score, in addition to his receiving TD.

Willis answered with a 90-yard kickoff return for King that he punched into the end zone from six yards out, but it wouldn’t be enough.

King’s offense struggled all day and was outgained by Cass Tech, 374-149.

“The defense played their (butts) off,” Wilcher said. “If we keep playing defense like that, we’re going to be successful.”

Willis rushed 16 times for 73 yards and a score for King. He also added a 22-yard touchdown reception late in the game.

King quarterback DeQuan Finn finished 7-for-18 for 93 yards, two interceptions and a touchdown.