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Friday's high school football: Livonia Churchill wins offensive shootout with rival Franklin

By Zach Sturgill
Special to The Detroit News

Livonia — Livonia Churchill came into Friday night with a 2-0 record, but faced its biggest test so far with a rivalry game on the road at Franklin.

With about 7 minutes to play, Franklin held a 36-26 lead. Churchill’s offense made quick work and erased the deficit to end up on top, 47-36.

Both teams ignited their offenses in the second quarter, after neither could amount points in the first.

Churchill running back Boston Clegg Jr. was being fed the ball early on the ground and through the air. He caught the first touchdown of the game from quarterback Gavin Brooks with 9:55 remaining in the half.

Zac Olesuk and Franklin’s offense were slow before that point. Two plays following Churchill’s score, the quarterback Olesuk ran it 60 yards to the end zone for the tying touchdown.

Churchill's Mateo Garcia hoists Gavin Brooks into the air after scoring in the first half.

Brooks and Churchill came out again with good field position at their own 40-yard line. Receiver Jordan Garcia caught a first-down pass to keep the drive alive on third down. Moments later, Brooks carried on the run-option play for a 41-yard touchdown. Franklin blocked the extra point attempt and the score was 13-7.

Franklin’s offense only needed a couple plays again to answer on the scoreboard. Olesuk connected with Evan Pittenger for a 41-yard pass. Trever Perczak finished the drive with a run for 19 yards for the lead, 14-13.

Clegg continued his dominance between the tackles, making a 32-yard run into Franklin territory on the next drive. Brooks found his younger brother Bailey an open 20-yard touchdown pass. A failed two-point conversion made it 19-14 for Churchill just before halftime.

“With Gavin and me in the backfield, you never know which one is going to get big yards. Teams don’t really who they need to stop,” Clegg said.

It was back-and-forth in the first two quarters, as both defenses were giving up big plays.

“We felt really good offensively going into the second half, and if we just made the adjustments defensively and not allow the big plays we would be fine,” Churchill coach Bill DeFillippo said.

More:Detroit News high school football scores: Week 3

Olesuk remained a dual threat in the beginning of the second half for Franklin. He ran a touchdown from midfield to the end zone on a quarterback keeper following a turnover on downs by the Franklin defense. Olesuk converted on the two-point conversion and made the score 22-19.

“That's what they were giving us, ability for the big plays, so that's what we had to take,” Franklin coach Chris Kelbert said.

Churchill didn’t break its trend of scoring. Brooks threw another touchdown pass to his brother, Bailey, this time on a slant that went 55 yards to put Churchill ahead 26-22.

“Our strategy on offense is to be balanced with passing and running the ball. We were comfortable in those situations where we needed to make a play through the air,” DeFillippo said.

Nothing was new for Franklin, either, as just minutes later in the third Olesuk scampered for a 50-yard touchdown, his third score of the game.

Franklin’s Cordel Mabins emerged from a scrum of linemen on fourth down and reached the end zone on a 21-yard run, and Churchill was down 36-26.

Churchill got Just what it needed, a quick score from Brooks to Garcia over the middle of the field for a 40-yard touchdown, cutting Franklin’s lead to 36-33.

After Franklin was stopped on third down, one play was all that was needed for Brooks to find wide open Jordan Garcia on the left sideline for a touchdown. Churchill was up again, 40-36.

With 2 minutes left, Churchill capped the victory with a fourth-down stop and a Clegg touchdown run with a minute left.

“Our offensive linemen were making holes and kept getting great blocks for us to bust through and score,” Clegg said.

Coach DeFillippo said the team’s performance was a mold that was formed from last year’s team, which had 10 sophomores starting in the state quarterfinal.

“It’s nice to see that our guys never quit and that's what we preach, that kind of attitude,” DeFillippo said. “This game is going to give us a lot of confidence.”

Kelbert said, “We need to just keep getting better, and be at our best by the end of October. There was more fight that we were getting out of our kids, which I was proud of.”

Churchill is 3-0; Franklin is 1-2.

More Friday games

Allen Park 49, Ferndale 8:​ David Cagle had 74 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns and Michael Lareau had a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown for Allen Park (2-1). Ferndale is 2-1.  

Brandon 28, Corunna 19: Micah Miller threw for 167 yards and one touchdown, Dylan Dickens ran for 111 yards and 78 yards receiving with two total touchdowns, Peyton Gulledge had 14 tackles, A.J. Fisher had eight tackles and one sack for Brandon (3-0).Corunna is 1-2.

Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 42, Sterling Heights Stevenson 27:​ Ryan Schuster had one rushing touchdown and threw for one touchdown, Cethus Harris had 11 carries for 151 yards and one touchdown, and Zach Ernat had one touchdown reception and two interceptions for Chippewa Valley (2-1). Stevenson is 2-1.

Detroit Central ​ 58​, Detroit Douglass 0:​ Justice Tuggle had three touchdowns with 226 total yards and a 32-yard fumble return for a touchdown, Elijah Grainger was 7-for-7 passing with two passing touchdowns and a 15-yard touchdown run with one interception, and David Mitchell returned a fumble for 13 yards for Central (3-0). Douglass is 0-3.

Detroit Community 28, Southfield Bradford 0: Dariontae Brown ran for 106 yards and two touchdowns, Willie Rush had a 3-yard touchdown run, Malik Smith had a fumble recovery for a touchdown, Ernie Chambers had eight tackles and two interceptions for Community (1-2). Bradford is 0-3.

Detroit Henry Ford 52, Detroit Northwestern 0: Jalen Jones had three touchdowns, Cardie Polentnez threw a 60-yard touchdown and had a rushing touchdown, and ran for 120 yards. The defense had two defensive touchdowns off of fumbles for Henry Ford (2-1). Northwestern is 1-2.

Detroit King 41, Detroit Denby 0:​ Dante Moore threw for 126 yards and five touchdowns and Rahiim Mersier had two receiving touchdowns for King (2-1). Denby is 2-1.

Detroit Mumford 36, Detroit Cody 6: Daequan Rollins had two rushing touchdowns and had a 67-yard interception for a touchdown, Justin Coopwood had seven tackles and two sacks, and Jonathan Scott had nine tackles with three tackles for loss for Mumford (2-1). Cody is 0-3.

Detroit Pershing 36, Detroit Osborn 0: Fred Ealy ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns and had a 50-yard interception for a touchdown, Narone Parker caught a 60-yard touchdown pass, Tyreese Orr caught a 40-yard touchdown pass, and Jaden Cunningham had a 10-yard rushing touchdown for Pershing (1-2). Osborn is 0-3.

Detroit Western 28, Detroit East English 0: Mekhi Fortt had 14 carries for 173 yards and two rushing touchdowns with one interception, Donovan Cole had one rushing touchdown and a 33-yard passing touchdown to Shamar Bellenger, and Lamont Parks had one interception for Western (2-1). East English is 0-3.

Detroit Central 58, Detroit Douglass 0: Justice Tuggle had three touchdowns with 226 total yards and a 32-yard fumble return for a touchdown, Elijah Grainger was 7-for-7 passing with two passing touchdowns and a 15-yard touchdown run with one interception, and David Mitchell returned a fumble for 13 yards for Central (3-0). Douglass is 0-3.

Eastpointe 50, Grosse Pointe North 0: Tayshawn Trent had a 75-yard touchdown reception, Maurice Davis ran for 132 yards and a touchdown, and Kumauri Bennett had a 37-yard touchdown reception and a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown for Eastpointe (3-0). Grosse Pointe is 1-2.

Garden City 42, Dearborn Heights Annapolis 0: Mike Nasierowski ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns, and Nathan Wasil threw for two touchdowns for Garden City (3-0). Corey Ballard ran for 76 yards for Annapolis (0-3).

Livonia Stevenson 42, Dearborn 28: Caden Woodall had 33 carries for 327 yards and six touchdowns, Teddy Mazeras had five tackles and four assists, and Patrick Coughlin had two interceptions and three tackles for Stevenson (2-1). Ali Hazimen ran for 110 yards and one touchdown and Adam Rammouni had 175 yards receiving and a touchdown for Dearborn (1-2). 

Macomb Dakota 21, Grosse Pointe South 7:​ Zach Droski was 7-for-10 passing for 120 yards, Preston Leon had four catches for 100 yards, Caiden Sloan had 75 yards rushing with two touchdowns, and DJ Stephen had 85 yards rushing for Macomb Dakota (2-1). Pointe South is 2-1.

Melvindale Academy for Business & Tech 26, Mount Clemens 20 (Saturday): Quincy Silar’s interception helped preserve ABT’s victory, snapping a 30-game losing streak. Corniella Chahoua three for 257 yards and two touchdowns, with Deon Curry collecting three catches for 162 yards and a TD. Angelo Martin added 16 carries for 185 yards and a TD. Jacoby Beard notched 15 tackles for ABT (1-2).

Novi 14, Plymouth 12: Maurice Langford had 11 carries for 96 yards with a 72-yard touchdown for Novi (1-2). Garrett Geyer had catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns for Plymouth (1-2).

Sterling Heights Parkway Christian 28, Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest 8:​ Dustin Jackson had 10 carries for 94 yards with a touchdown and three catches for 116 yards, BJ Weatherly had 10 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 61 yards, and Justin Kramer had two sacks with one forced fumble and one fumble recovery for Parkway Christian (1-2). Lutheran Northwest is 0-3.

St. Clair Shores South Lake 54, New Haven 12:​ Kawon Robinson was 5-for-12 passing for 110 yards and had two passing touchdowns to Malcolm Smith and Mark Terry, Marlan Tucker had one fumble recovery, and Marvin McCalister had one interception for South Lake (3-0). New Haven is 0-3.

Utica 34, Utica Ford 17:​ Brett Berg threw for 239 yards and three total touchdowns, Jason Azar ran for 45 yards and a touchdown and had 84 receiving yards, Garrison Nicks had two receiving touchdowns, Zack Jacobs had 116 yards receiving and a touchdown for Utica (2-0). Gary Nelson had 112 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and Christopher Williams had one rushing touchdown for Utica Ford (0-3).

Warren Mott 29, Ecorse 6: James Chaney had 153 yards passing and three total touchdowns, K.J. Allen had 71 yards receiving and five tackles, Isiah Daniels had 10 tackles and two sacks, and Dominic Eonta had nine tackles and one sack for Mott (3-0). Ecorse is 1-2.

Zach Sturgill is a freelance writer; Detroit News staff contributed.