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'I just turned it up': Jaffer's 76-yard gallop lifts Catholic Central to Boys Bowl win over De La Salle

Eric Coughlin
Special to The Detroit News

Novi — Detroit Catholic Central junior running back Mo Jaffer finally found a seam in Warren De Lasalle’s defense in the fourth quarter, ripping off a 76-yard touchdown run with three minutes left and giving Catholic Central a 14-10 win in the 76th annual Boys Bowl on Saturday night.

Until Jaffer’s scamper the game had been a defensive slog, but the narrow victory keeps Catholic Central (3-0, 2-0 Catholic League Central) unbeaten.

Jaffer finished with 165 yards on 23 carries for a 7.2-yard average.

Mohamed Jaffer (22) of Detroit Catholic Central runs with the football in the second half.

“The whole (defensive) line crashed down,” Jaffer said. “I saw one man that I had to make miss and when I made him miss I just turned it up. We’ve got to stay focused, can’t get ahead of ourselves. There’s a lot more to come. Every game is like the state championship in the Catholic League.”

Catholic Central coach Dan Anderson felt giving the ball to Jaffer was his team’s best option, despite Jaffer running into stacked defensive boxes for most of the game.

More:Detroit News high school football scoreboard: Week 3

“We felt like he (Jaffer) had the hot hand tonight at tailback,” Anderson said. “We kept giving it to him, and we did have to spell him a few times because he plays defense too, but I figured he could break one for us.”

Anderson expected a defensive battle before the game and got it, with the teams combining for only 435 yards, mostly between the 20-yard lines.

“That was one of those games where we had to gut it out through the whole process,” Anderson said. Any time you play a (Catholic League) Central team it’s going to be a battle. You win with defense. We’ve got stuff we’ve got to fix, but that’s every team right now.”

De La Salle (1-2, 1-2) struggled to move the ball all night, racking up 13 incomplete or intercepted passes and finding little room to run, gaining only 87 yards on the ground.

Senior quarterback JC Ford toted the ball 22 times for 88 hard-earned yards for De La Salle, never able to break through, but proving very effective at draining the clock in the second half, which De La Salle led for most of.

“JC is an extremely tough kid,” first-year De La Salle coach Dan Rohn said. “He’s a great quarterback, but right now we’re still trying to find out who we are. Losing all those practices this summer and not having opportunities to scrimmage didn’t help. I don’t like to lose, but we’ll look at film and get better next week.”

De La Salle struck first after blocking a punt, resulting in a short field. Senior running back Brett Stanley sprinted out to his left and got around the Catholic Central defense for an eight-yard touchdown, the only score of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, De La Salle junior Brady Lowe made it 10-0 with a 28-yard field goal, but toward the end of the first half, Catholic Central started to ever-so-slightly move the ball. Junior Catholic Central quarterback Declan Byle hit senior tight end Michael Ramirez on a swing pass and Ramirez showed impressive speed, beating the De La Salle defense to the pylon for a 29-yard touchdown, ending Catholic Central’s offensive drought and drawing Catholic Central to within three, 10-7, the score at halftime.

“Our quarterback gave it to me in just the right spot, and I knew right at that moment I’d have to run my butt down to the sideline and get there as fast as I could to get that score,” Ramirez said. “I’ve never timed my 40 (yard dash), but I’ve just got to be faster than the other guy, and it felt good. That gave us momentum and confidence.”

The teams traded punts in a scoreless third quarter, leading to Jaffer’s decisive run in the fourth.

Catholic Central plays its last conference game next week at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s while De La Salle plays DeWitt at Wayne State.