Harrison hammers Farmington, lives to play another game

Nolan Bianchi
Special to The Detroit News
Farmington Hills Harrison celebrates Friday's 48-7 win over Farmington, which enabled Harrison to secure a state playoff spot in its final year.

Farmington — The lights have gone out at Herrington Athletic Complex.

But Farmington Hills Harrison’s season is still shining bright.

In the school’s last regular-season home game, Harrison secured a spot in the state playoffs by dominating Farmington, 48-7, Friday night in an Oakland Activities Association crossover game.

Harrison (6-3, 4-2 OAA White), who owns a record 13 state championships, will close at the end of the 2018-2019 school year. It celebrated the final showdown on its home turf by bringing out participants of past state championship teams at halftime, welcoming back former assistant coaches and holding a special postgame celebration.

“I was hoping this wasn’t going to be my last game,” said Harrison coach John Herrington, the program’s only coach in its 49-year existence and Michigan’s winningest prep football coach.

But it wasn’t all pageantry.

Detroit Delta Prep transfer Keel Watson finally got comfortable in his third game in Harrison's offense, throwing for 93 yards and a touchdown. Running back Rod Heard became Harrison’s seventh all-time leading rusher with 119 yards and two touchdowns and Vincent Rawls put up four touchdowns and 95 all-purpose yards.

Heard said that while he and Rawls are always in competition with each other, he was proud of the way his teammate ran.

“He ran like a dog tonight,” Heard said. “I’ve been waiting all season for him to have a four-touchdown game. But I’m happy he got this one in and I’m going to get him next week.”  

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Harrison took a 7-0 lead on its first drive of the game. Watson found open receivers twice on third-and-long situations to keep the touchdown drive alive. On second-and-2 from the 14, Rawls took his first carry of the game all the way to the house.

“Keel brought us through with play-action passes, and that loosened us up a little,” Herrington said.

Harrison’s defense didn’t flinch in the emotional game, either. It allowed just 115 yards of offense — and intercepted two of Farmington’s three passes.

With a one-score lead late in the first, Javair Beeler jumped on a Farmington fumble near midfield to put the pressure back on.

Watson completed a 21-yard pass to Max Martin to move Harrison into the red zone with its running game in a funk. He then found Rawls in the flat for a 15-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0 early in the second quarter.

Then, Harrison’s running backs found their groove, hurting Farmington (6-3, 5-1 OAA Blue) with long runs to gain a 22-0 lead with 3:01 remaining in the second. Rawls had a 22-yard run, Ben Williams broke loose for a gain of 16, and Heard had pickups of 13 and 10 before punching it in from 2 yards out and converting on a two-point attempt.

Rawls intercepted a deflected pass on Farmington’s next drive and gave Harrison another chance to add to its lead with less than two minutes remaining in the half.

Heard shed three Farmington defenders on his way to a 50-yard touchdown run after the interception. A missed PAT made it 28-0.

Rawls scored his third touchdown on the night with a 1-yard run with 6:45 left in the third and added a fourth just three minutes later to make it 41-0. Williams also added a touchdown.

Rawls, who said he was just happy he’ll get to “play another game of football,” was quick to direct attention away from himself.

“We just put everything on the line as a team,” Rawls added. “We all did it together.”

Kendall Williams ran for 91 yards and scored Farmington’s only touchdown.

Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.