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Harbaugh watches as Cass Tech routs King for PSL title

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Cass Tech's Donovan Peoples-Jones (9) strong arms a King player.

Detroit – Detroit Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher came into the PSL championship game at Ford Field Friday night wanting to see more excitement from his offense.

Wilcher got his wish.

Cass Tech – ranked No. 1 in The Detroit News state Super 20 poll – avenged last year’s 27-25 PSL title game loss to Detroit King with a dominating performance in the rematch, earning a 41-20 victory with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh watching from the sidelines.

But it didn’t come without consequences as Cass Tech senior quarterback Rodney Hall left the game late in the third quarter with an ankle injury. Hall threw for a TD and ran for two more scores.

King four-star receiver / defensive back Ambry Thomas had three TD receptions, all coming in the second half after Cass Tech built a 28-0 lead.

Cass Tech won the showdown between the teams in Week No. 6, 31-18, and the fireworks started early in the PSL title game with Cass Tech five-star receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones showing why he is considered the top player of the state and one of the premier players in the nation.

After holding King on its first series, forcing a fourth-down incompletion, Cass Tech got the ball at its 36 and Hall threw a bomb on the second play, finding Peoples-Jones, who got behind four-star defensive back Ambry Thomas for a 55-yard TD just three minutes into the game.

Then, Cass Tech’s defense again came up big when Donovan Williams stepped in front of Jerry Tucker in the end zone.

Hall again went to work, finding Donovan-Jones on a quick slant on a third-and-15 play for a first down at Cass Tech’s 31. Hall finished the drive on a 40-yard option run, celebrating with a forward flip in the end zone for a 14-0 cushion with 50 seconds left in the opening quarter.

Things didn’t end there. Cass Tech scored on its next drive when Hall, under pressure, got enough strength on the throw to find Jaylen Kelly-Powell for 32 yards to the King 10, setting up Aaron Jackson’s 1-yard run for a 21-0 lead midway through the second.

King sophomore quarterback Dequan Finn connected with Thomas for a 26-yard pass play to advance to Cass Tech’s 29, only to have Finn get sacked by four-star junior linebacker DeAndre Square and have the drive stall when Finn’s fourth-and-long pass to Thomas fell incomplete with 1:17 left in the half.

Hall accounted for 156 first-half yards, including 4-of-6 passing, for 106 yards.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was on hand at Ford Field on Friday night for the Cass Tech vs. King PSL title game.

King coach Tyrone Spencer said he was looking to get the ball more in Thomas’ hands, and the effort was there. Thomas got seven opportunities in the first seven minutes, including two kickoff returns, two running attempts and three passes thrown his way.

Still, Cass Tech’s defense didn’t let Thomas get free with defenders draped all over him in the first half, including Donovan Johnson knocking away a pass attempt intended for Thomas early in the second quarter.

On Cass Tech’s opening series of the second half, Hall barely missed Peoples-Jones on a deep ball in the same corner of the end zone as his first TD hookup.

Hall made sure Cass Tech would score on the drive, running for nine yards on a third-and-2 option, then eight more on the next play to the 14 before going up top again to Peoples-Jones, who was interfered in the end zone by Thomas, setting up Hall’s 5-yard TD run for a 28-0 advantage.

But, Hall would soon leave the game with an ankle injury.

King got on the board with 4:16 left in the third when Finn completed 3-of-4 passes for 66 yards, including a 37-yard strike to Thomas to pull within 28-6.

Cass Tech Luis Borjas got into the act, kicking field goals of 39 and 49 yards, to increase the lead to 34-6 before Finn again found Thomas for a TD, this time from 18 yards, then connecting with him on the two-point PAT to cut the deficit to 34-14.

Again, Cass Tech would answer, this time when Willie Reid scooped up an onside kick and scored on a 60-yard return.

Finn found Thomas for a third time, this time from 29 yards with 2:05 left.