Dearborn – Defense again carried Detroit King to a playoff victory, this time a 14-7 win over Birmingham Groves in a Division 2 state semifinal on Saturday.
King (11-2), the defending state champion, returns to Ford Field for Friday’s state championship game. The Crusaders will take on Walled Lake Western at 1 p.m.
King’s defense has allowed just seven points in three of four playoff games this season. The Crusaders opened with a 38-14 win over Ferndale in the predistricts, then beat Oak Park 34-7 and Temperance Bedford 21-7 prior to Saturday.,
“Our defense has been lights-out and our game plan has been good,” said King coach Tyrone Spencer.
King was able to jump on the board first as sophomore quarterback Dequan Finn hit senior receiver Ambry Thomas for a huge 37-yard completion, which set up a three-yard touchdown run by senior running back Kevin Willis to take a 7-0 lead with 3:42 left in the first quarter.
Late in the second quarter, King was in Groves territory and Finn showed some mobility as he was able to scramble and find senior receiver Christian Chatman for a 17-yard touchdown pass.
That put King up 14-0 going into the half.
Groves took the momentum right back in the third quarter.
Junior quarterback Beau Kewley hit junior receiver Nate Higley on what looked to be a screen pass, but Higley caught King’s defense by surprise as he threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Drew Scheckell.
The score was 14-7 with 8:32 left in the third and that would be the last score of the game.
King suffered a few costly turnovers on offense. Finn fumbled late in the third quarter and also threw an interception late in the fourth, but the King defense came to the rescue.
“I feel good about our defense and we have to keep riding this momentum defensively because that’s what wins championships,” Spencer said.
Senior defensive tackle Damani Green said it feels great going back to Ford Field.
“Man, this feeling is amazing, I really can’t even explain it,” Green said.
Thomas finished the game with seven receptions for 130 yards for King.
Groves ends with an 11-2 record.