Donovan Peoples-Jones reeled in a 49-yard touchdown pass that gave Detroit Cass Tech a three-score lead in the third quarter Saturday at Ford Field.
The score all but ensured the Technicians their first Division 1 state championship since 2012, but no one was more excited about the catch than Lions cornerback Darius Slay, who was all smiles on the nearby sidelines.
Cass Tech went on to down Novi Detroit Catholic Central, 49-20, to claim its third state title and avenge last year’s 47-21 loss to Romeo in the state final a year ago.
Doing it all in front of an NFL player just made it that more special.
“I look up to Slay, and for him to come out here after he caught the game-winner (Thursday), I felt so good when he came up to me on the sidelines,” said Peoples-Jones, referencing Slay’s interception that helped the Lions set up the winning field goal to beat the Minnesota Vikings, 16-13, on Thanksgiving.
Peoples-Jones finished with six receptions for 118 yards and two TDs, including a 13-yard TD in the fourth quarter he caught from quarterback Rodney Hall.
Hall, who tied a state championship record with five TD passes, said what makes the duo so dangerous is their friendship that date backs to middle school. Hall almost always knows where Peoples-Jones is going to be on routes, and Peoples-Jones knows just where Hall is going to thread his passes.
“He’s one of my best friends, and we have a great relationship,” Hall said. “So on the field, it’s nothing for us to connect on a pass.
“I feel it, and he feels it, and it’s a catch, and that’s how it is.”
Peoples-Jones’ big day in the state championship put him over 1,000 yards receiving for the season.
The senior ended his final campaign with 52 catches for 1,007 yards and 17 TDs.
Couple those numbers with a few player of the year honors as well as high school football’s ultimate prize, a state championship, and Peoples-Jones is ready to continue his career in college after he graduates early in December.
“It’s amazing, and I’ve never felt anything like this,” said Peoples-Jones, who has 24 Division I offers but is yet to announce what school he’ll play for next fall. “I’ve had a lot of accolades and honors in my high school career, but nothing matches this, a state championship with my brothers.”
The only question that remains with Peoples-Jones’ prep career is whether or not he could catch a pass while being guarded by Slay, one of his idols.
“I’m not saying whether I could or can’t,” Peoples-Jones said, smiling. “He’s a great player.”