Saturday's semifinals: Stanley punches De La Salle's ticket to D2 final in OT win over Oak Park
Warren De La Salle defeated Oak Park 26-20 in an overtime classic, setting up for a Division 2 championship appearance next Friday.
On the first play of overtime, Oak Park’s Davion Primm fumbled the ball, which was then recovered by De La Salle’s Jayden Conklin. Three plays later, Brett Stanley ran in for the touchdown, securing the victory for Warren De La Salle, and a trip to Ford Field.
The victory was a shot in the arm for the community, Warren De La Salle coach Dan Rohn said.
There was a possibility that the game was going to be moved because of a ban on varsity football games in the city. However, it was temporarily lifted for the semifinal playoff.
“It’s been a long 14 months," said Rohn, "and between the pandemic and everything that’s happened, this community needed it."
"I can’t say enough about the alumni and the administration right now, and even the community of Warren for allowing us to do this. A lot of people had to come together to make this happen, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it right now."
De La Salle started the first quarter on the right foot, turning a bad snap on Oak Park’s first punt into a safety.
Although a kickoff return touchdown by Stanley was negated by a holding penalty, he found the end zone later with a 16-yard rushing touchdown and a successful two-point conversion to put De La Salle up 10-0.
Oak Park responded in the second quarter with a 33-yard punt return for a touchdown by Glenie Cross. De La Salle led 10-6 at halftime.
De La Salle extended its lead when quarterback Brady Drogosh connected with Alton McCullum for a 20-yard touchdown. Oak Park responded with Primm scoring on a 9-yard run.
On third-and-8, Oak Park quarterback James Brunley was chased down and almost tackled near the 40-yard line but somehow managed to scramble to the De La Salle 12 for a first down.
Brunley completed the drive with a 4-yard run with Oak Park adding the two-point conversion to take the lead 20-17.
“(Brunley) was an athletic guy, and we missed some tackles, and our D-line did get a lot of pressure on him at times," Rohn said. "But he’s very elusive and very athletic and he was able to get out of the pocket and make some throws downfield. So credit to him and credit to what he does.”
De La Salle relied on Stanley, who helped drive the offense to the 1-yard line. De La Salle couldn't capitalize, settling for a 22-yard field goal by sophomore Cody Cummins, which tied it 20-20.
Cummins' attempt hit the upright before going through, which caused a few palpitations.
“I lost it in the sun when I kicked it, and I heard the doink on the goalpost,” Cummins said. "I saw both sidelines celebrate, and I didn’t really know what to think and then they told me, ‘You made it,’ and it was a sigh of relief. It was way too close.”
Stanley said he was too nervous to watch the field goal attempt.
“I said a prayer during the field goal," the De La Salle player said. "I turned around right when it hit the post, and I just heard everyone screaming."
De La Salle's coach was relieved his sophomore kicker delivered.
“We’ve been using two kickers all year long, and our other kicker is a little banged up right now," Rohn said. "But Cody did a great job and he put the ball through the uprights.
"We wanted to get the seven points there, but we settled for the tie and played for the overtime.”
In overtime after the fumble, Rohn put the ball in Stanley’s hands one more time for the win, as Stanley finished with 169 yards and two touchdowns in what will likely be his second to last game playing for De La Salle.
More semifinal games
►River Rouge 30, (at) Chelsea 22: Mareyohn Hrabowski ran for three touchdowns and Charles Davis had a rushing touchdown for River Rouge (9-1), which will play DeWitt (11-0)in the Division 3 championship. Devontae Miles had a forced fumble and fumble recovery, Armorion Smith had 10 solo tackles, and Markell Gilford had four pass deflections for Rouge.
►Detroit Country Day 12, (at) Williamston 0: Brandon Mann ran for a touchdown as Country Day (8-2) will face Cadillac (8-2) in the Division 4 championship.
Kam Goodwill is a freelance writer; Detroit News staff contributed