Saturday’s roundup: Cass Tech crushes Fordson

Eric Coughlin
Special to The Detroit News
Cass Tech's Marc Oliver (17) celebrates at the end zone for the first touchdown of the game against Dearborn Fordson.

Detroit — Detroit Cass Tech used 21 second-half points and a suffocating defense to beat Dearborn Fordson, 35-7, in the first round of the Michigan Division 1 football state playoffs on Saturday.

Speedy slot receiver Marc Oliver took a short pass on Cass Tech's (10-0) second possession and ran 46 yards for his second touchdown of the day, eluding several Fordson (8-2) defenders and giving Cass Tech an early 14-0 lead.

Fordson had trouble moving the ball all game. Star quarterback Hamze Elzayat was consistently swarmed at the line by Cass Tech defenders. Fordson's lone touchdown came from its defense, when Mohamad Amen intercepted an Aaron Jackson pass on Fordson's six-yard line and ran 94 yards for a score.

When Fordson was moving the ball on offense, it was largely because of Cass Tech penalties. Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher got in an emotional discussion with referees during the third quarter, and assistant coaches had to pull him back to the sideline.

"Whenever you've got a game where kids are getting really heated up, there are going to be a lot of cheap shots. I think the officials did a good job, but I just want the officials to protect the kids," Wilcher said about his talk with the referees.

Cass Tech's star, Donovan Peoples-Jones, had a leaping interception in the second quarter. In the third quarter he took a short pass from quarterback Rodney Hall, picked up blocks from Oliver and Teone Allen, and jetted 36 yards down the sideline to make the score 28-0.

Michigan football state playoff scores

Peoples-Jones gave credit to his teammates, but mentioned penalties as something his team could improve on.

"That was just a great play call,” he said. “I got two wonderful blocks from Marc Oliver and Teone Allen. We definitely want to cut down on our penalties if we want to ultimately achieve our goals."

Cass Tech running back Donovan Johnson only got two opportunities to carry the ball but tore up the Fordson defense. His first carry was a 79-yard touchdown erased by a holding penalty, but two plays later Johnson did it again, this time for 85 yards with no flags.

"It was a play of patience," Johnson said. "I had to wait for the play to develop, and when it did, touchdown."

Cass Tech safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell said the defense's preparation and scouting helped them stifle Fordson but mentioned more work was necessary for a long playoff run.

"Coming into this game we focused on the formations they can run, their personnel and their routes," Kelly-Powell said. "We need to stay disciplined and listen to our coaches. We've been through a lot together."

Aaron Jackson also added a score for Cass Tech on a one-yard run.

Cass Tech will face Dearborn in a Division 1 district final on Friday or Saturday.

More football playoffs

Division 1

Detroit Catholic Central 49, Howell 17: Cameron Ryan had two touchdowns and 146 yards on 15 carries, and Nicholas Capatina recorded two scores and 138 yards on 14 rushes for Catholic Central (10-0). Austin Brown was 6-for-8 passing with 199 yards and two touchdowns, and Jack Downs returned an interception 21 yards for a score. Howell finished 5-5.

Division 4

Detroit Country Day 35, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood 7: Steve Mann was 10-for-19 passing with 79 yards and one touchdown, and Nick Neibauer had 79 yards on 18 carries for Country Day (10-0). Chris Bergin recorded a score and 59 yards on 14 carries. Cranbrook (7-3) held Country Day scoreless in the first half and scored on an 80-yard touchdown pass from AJ Rodriguez to Daniel Russell. Cranbrook finished 7-3.

Division 7

Detroit Loyola 45, Madison Heights Madison 12: Loyola (8-2) racked up 450 yards of total offense, including a combined 370 rushing yards by Price Watkins, D'Anthony Robinson and Malcolm Mayes. Kyshonn Tyson made 15 tackles, including seven for loss and three sacks. Madison finished 6-4.

Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett 63, Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest 35: Charles Caine had 260 rushing yards, five rushing touchdowns, six catches, 130 yards receiving and two touchdown receptions for Liggett (10-0). Connor McCarron was 18-for-22 passing with four scores and 301 yards, and Jackson Walkowiak recorded two touchdowns on five catches and 156 yards. Lutheran Northwest finished 6-4.

Division 8

Royal Oak Shrine 21, Fowler 14: Mike Niehaus had rushing touchdowns of 41 and 28 yards for Shrine (8-2). Asher Smith scored on a one-yard quarterback sneak. Fowler finished 6-4.

Eric Coughlin is a freelance writer.