Farmington Hills — Jon Brunette made the most of his handful of carries to lead North Farmington to a 13-9 win over Farmington in the showdown for the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division Friday night between unbeaten rivals before a standing-room only crowd.
In doing so, North Farmington also won the city championship.
North Farmington (8-0, 6-0) — which had won a total of five games the previous three years — made the dramatic turnaround after the majority of the Farmington Hills Harrison coaching staff, including the state’s all-time winningest coach John Herrington, came on board after Harrison’s doors closed for good this past June.
Farmington senior quarterback Max Martin, who played for Harrison last year, had North Farmington coaches and fans holding their breath on several occasions, including a perfectly thrown deep pass which was dropped, an 11-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and a couple of drives deep in North Farmington territory in the second half that stalled each time.
Martin, playing with a fractured pinky on his right throwing hand, ran for 92 yards on 19 carries but hit on just 3-of-10 passes for 36 yards.
North Farmington junior quarterback Jacob Bousamra (11-for-20 passing, 102 yards), who had completed 71 percent of his passes for 1,538 yards and 20 TDs entering the game, hit on seven of his first eight passes for 62 yards in the opening quarter. But he found things much tougher the rest of the way with Farmington’s defense putting on pressure and forcing a turnover.
In the end, it was two big plays that was the difference for North Farmington, which took a 7-0 lead with 5:15 left in the first quarter when Andrew Dooley blocked a punt and pounced on it in the end zone.
“That was a huge, huge play," North Farmington coach Jon Herstein said. "We work out tails off at special teams. Our coach Eric Johnson has been working at that, up the middle. We saw a weakness in the way they protect it and we felt like we could go after it.
"We obviously got it and turned it into six points and those were big points for us.”
Then Brunette (five carries, 80 yards) scored on a 58-yard touchdown run with 9:49 left in the third quarter to give North Farmington a 13-7 lead. It was Brunette’s first carry of the game and was the lone score of the second half until Farmington recorded a safety in the finale minute.
“They just handed me the ball and I saw an open hole, my offensive line did an amazing job of opening it up and I just saw daylight and started running for my life,” said Brunette who entered the night with 92 yards on 15 carries without a TD. “I’m so emotional right now. Our coaches are amazing, and my teammates are amazing, and I love them all.”
Farmington (7-1, 5-1) had a chance to pull even early in the second quarter, but failed to take advantage of Martin’s perfectly thrown deep pass that went through the hands of a wide open receiver.
North Farmington had a short field to work with early in the second, fielding a punt at its own 48. But a personal foul sent it back to its own 33, an intentional grounding penalty on Bousamra pushed it back to its 20 and Farmington suddenly flipped the field, getting the ball back on a punt at the North Farmington 40.
Farmington failed to take advantage but pinned North Farmington deep at its own 3 on a punt and then again forced a three-and-out to get the ball back at the North Farmington 49.
And this time Farmington scored with Keion Shaw breaking loose for a 22-yard run to the 23, then having Martin push the chains on a fourth-and-inches to the 11 before scoring a play later with 1:06 left in the half.
Farmington had a chance to take the lead before halftime when defensive lineman Stephen Singleton recovered Bousamra’s fumble at the North Farmington 35 with 51 seconds left. Martin scrambled to the 25 but Farmington’s drive stalled there.
North Farmington pulled ahead 13-7 lead early in the second half when Brunette broke loose up the middle for his long scoring run.
“They just handed me the ball and I saw an open hole, my offensive line did an amazing job of opening it up and I just saw daylight and started running for my life,” said Brunette, who entered the night with 92 yards on 15 carries without a TD.
“I’m so emotional right now. Our coaches are amazing, and my teammates are amazing, and I love them all.”
It looked like Farmington was set to take the lead when Martin moved his team inside the red zone. But Martin was hit hard by linebacker Sylvon Brown on third down for a loss, setting up a 36-yard field goal that sailed wide with four minutes left in the third.
North Farmington’s defense again came up big when Farmington advanced to the North Farmington 27, but Martin’s second-down pass was overthrown and he was tackled by Eddie Lenton for a 7-yard loss on third down to force a punt.
“This is what high school football should be like — two great teams going against each other, guys busting their butts, big-time rivalry, all that good stuff and the community support, just awesome stuff," Herstein said.
Allen Park 49, Dearborn Edsel Ford 19: Nico Tiberia had two touchdowns and 107 yards from scrimmage and Blake Gilliam had 92 yards receiving and a touchdown for Allen Park (6-2, 5-2 Downriver). Edsel Ford is 2-6, 2-5.
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook 35, Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard 12: Tariq Muhammad ran for 275 yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries and Jack Fairman had 17 tackles for Cranbrook (5-3, 1-3 Catholic AA). Gabriel Richard is 4-4, 0-4.
Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 21, Romeo 17: Myren Harris ran for 170 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries and Myles Harris scored on a 91-yard kickoff return for Chippewa Valley (8-0, 5-0 MAC Red). Romeo is 6-2, 3-2.
Dearborn Fordson 38, Dearborn 10: Jake Tafielski had 150 rushing yards and one touchdown for Dearborn (4-4, 3-4 KLAA East). Fordson is 7-1, 6-1.
Dearborn Heights Robichaud 38, Garden City 26: David Williams went 14-for-29 passing with 284 yards and four touchdowns, Cameron Underwood caught nine passes for 185 yards and three touchdowns, and Ky’Shaun Jackson had nine for 84 and a touchdown for Robichaud (7-1, 6-1 Western Wayne). Ithan Cholewa had 29 carries for 207 yards and three touchdowns for Garden City (5-3, 4-2).
Detroit Denby 34, Detroit Mumford 14: Marquez Bridges had 312 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, Semaj McDonald had nine tackles, 62 yards rushing and one TD, and Keyon Hammond had a 79-yard touchdown reception for Denby (7-1). Mumford is 5-3.
Eastpointe 46, Warren Fitzgerald 28: Davion Watkins had 12 carries for 256 yards and three touchdowns and scored on a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown, and John Cannon had four carries for 56 yards and a touchdown for Eastpointe (5-3, 4-1 MAC Gold). Fitzgerald is 3-5, 1-4.
Grosse Pointe South 42, Grosse Pointe North 0: Will Johnson had a punt return for a touchdown, AJ Benson had a 60-yard rushing touchdown and Joey Klunder had a sack and three tackles for loss for South (7-1, 5-0 MAC White). North is 0-8, 0-5.
Plymouth 49, Salem 0: Mike Mathias and Ray Barber each had two rushing touchdowns for Plymouth (8-0, 7-0 KLAA West). Salem is 0-8, 0-7.
Riverview 24, Grosse Ile 10: Kenny Hightower ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries for Riverview (6-2, 5-2 Huron). Giuseppe Pizzo caught eight passes for 150 yards and a touchdown for Grosse Ile (1-7, 1-6).
Romulus Summit North 20, Mount Clemens 6: Don Williams threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Armani Cannon and Tayshaun Peterson made 10 tackles and recovered two fumbles for Mount Clemens (4-4, 1-4 Charter). Summit is 6-2, 4-1.
Sterling Heights Parkway Christian 28, Southfield Christian 18: Griffin Adams had 13 carries for 118 yards and a touchdown, John Stricker had nine carries for 78 yards and a touchdown, Jake Robinet had 11 tackles and three sacks for Parkway (1-7, 1-5 MIAC). Southfield Christian is 3-5, 1-4.
Utica 32, Macomb L'Anse Creuse North 21: Gabe Olschefski had 31 carries for 210 yards and two touchdowns, Zack Keen had 215 passing yards and two touchdowns, Garrison Nicks had five catches for 105 yards and one touchdown, and McGuire Palicke had three sacks for Utica (3-5, 2-3 MAC White). L’Anse Creuse North is 3-5, 1-4.
Warren Michigan Collegiate 44, Harper Woods Chandler Park 8: Darrius Love ran for 184 yards and had two total touchdowns and DeMarco Black had a receiving touchdown and nine tackles for Collegiate (7-1, 5-0 Charter). Chandler Park is 4-4, 3-2.
Warren Mott 27, Utica Ford 19: Curtis Hamilton had 131 yards rushing and one touchdown on 20 attempts, Dylan VanConant threw two touchdown passes and ran for another, and Romeo Jones had 12 tackles and three sacks for Mott (6-2, 4-1 MAC White). Jeremy Taras had four field goals for Ford (4-4, 3-2).
Detroit News staff contributed