West Bloomfield — Oak Park coach Greg Carter had to like where his team was sitting at halftime, owning a 14-13 lead over West Bloomfield despite struggling through penalties and miscues.
But No. 3 Oak Park couldn’t overcome yet another costly turnover in the third quarter. After a fumbled punt resulted in a short field for No. 1 West Bloomfield to work with, quarterback C.J. Harris took advantage and scored a 2-yard touchdown run that proved to be the difference in a 20-14 victory.
Oak Park struggled from the start with first-year starting quarterback Frank Black having communication problems with the plays, leading to multiple Oak Park penalties.
“I’m tremendously upset with the way we performed today, just too many penalties," Carter said. "We had a new quarterback (Black), a senior, and we tell him all the time he has to watch the official in the back and has to get the ball snapped, and I think at one point we had four or five penalties in a row, so it was bad. We have a lot of work to do.”
And when Oak Park did have a big play with Black finding four-star receiver Maliq Carr for a 91-yard touchdown, the score was wiped out by an illegal formation penalty. Carr did not catch a pass the rest of the way.
“We mixed it up coverage-wise on him (Carr) and when we thought there was passing downs, and they were going to go with Carr we put (Makari) Paige on him," West Bloomfield coach Ron Bellamy said. "I feel like our secondary is a phenomenal group. They stepped up and didn’t give up many big plays today."
Oak Park also had trouble with snaps to Carr, who handled the punting twice and still got punts off, but short kicks enabled West Bloomfield to start two drives at the Oak Park 39.
But Oak Park’s defense came up big both times, limiting West Bloomfield to a pair of 39-yard field goals by Jake Ward.
Oak Park also failed to pick up the ball on a kickoff — after Ward’s second field goal — giving West Bloomfield the ball at the Oak Park 32 with 10 minutes left in the half with West Bloomfield holding a 13-6 lead.
Oak Park prevented that turnover from turning into points when Dondi Price recovered a fumble after West Bloomfield’s receiver fumbled after grabbing a pass on a slant pattern.
Black did lead one impressive series late in the first half, leading Oak Park to an 84-yard, 13-play drive. It ended with his 5-yard touchdown pass to Travis Boston on fourth down with 2:06 left in the second quarter to pull within 13-12.
Oak Park took the lead when Jaylen Fielder took the snap on the PAT and sprinted into the left corner of the end zone for the 14-13 edge. Fielder also made a big play when he had a third-down reception for 38 yards to the West Bloomfield 39.
Oak Park went up, 6-0, when Dayvon Young returned the opening kick 70 yards to the West Bloomfield 1, leading to Travis Boston’s 6-yard scoring run.
West Bloomfield took the lead when four-star junior running back Donovan Edwards broke loose for a 60-yard touchdown run, followed by Ward’s PAT. Edwards finished with 108 yards on 12 carries.
Oak Park’s defense made big plays to stop West Bloomfield’s drives. The first one came when the state’s top player, four-star two-way lineman Justin Rogers, stripped Edwards of the ball after a reception at the Oak Park 9 early in the first quarter. Then Price recovered a fumble during the second quarter.
Oak Park still had chances to pull the game out in the final minutes, driving from its own 20 to inside West Bloomfield territory, but Black’s fourth-down pass went off the fingertips of Fielder near the 25 with two minutes remaining.
Then Oak Park had one final shot with Black finding Fielder near midfield before his long pass down the right sideline was intercepted Paige, the Michigan-bound safety.
“We knew it would come down to this, that the team that made the last play would win and Makari made the interception to seal the game," Bellamy said. "Our defense played well tonight. We need to clean up some things with the turnovers and penalties, but we’ll be OK."
Detroit Denby 30, Detroit Cody 0: Semje Mcdonald had eight rushes for 107 yards, Latrell Thompkins had four sacks, three fumble recoveries, including two for touchdowns, and a 32-yard touchdown reception, and LaCraig Shorter had two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for Denby.
Detroit Public Safety Academy 46, Southfield Bradford 6: Nichlas Macfarland had seven tackles with five sacks and one forced fumble, Jamale Sackerford had seven tackles with two pass breakups and one interception, and Khanye Howard had 13 tackles, two sacks and one interception for Public Safety.
Harper Woods 26, Detroit Renaissance 12: James Macklemore threw touchdown passes of 85 yards to Curtis Jackson and 25 yards to Christian Stokes and Davion Turner rushed for 108 yards for Harper Woods. Stokes added a 25-yard rushing touchdown and interception, and Diavion Brown had two sacks.
Utica 37, Bloomfield Hills 34: Zach Keen passed for 220 yards and two touchdowns, Brett Berg caught four passes for 140 yards and a touchdown, Keegan Mahar had four tackles and two interceptions, and Maddie Barch kicked three field goals, including the 32-yard winning kick for Utica with 30 seconds remaining.
News staff contributed