Detroit King and Detroit East English Village could become quite familiar with each other over the next three weeks.
“We’re playing them today, we’ll probably have to play them next week and in the districts,” said East English coach Rod Oden before the Detroit Public School League’s last divisional regular season game Saturday afternoon.
If that’s the case, Round 1 went to visiting King, 45-37, aided by three fourth-quarter interceptions.
King’s Kevin Willis had been held in check the entire game, but with the outcome in doubt he carried the ball on every play and eventually scored on a seven-yard TD run to give the Crusaders a 39-37 lead with 3:02 to play.
East English was thwarted twice on drives following that TD. Christian Chatman intercepted a Delvin Washington pass with 2:34 left, and Ambry Thomas intercepted a pass and returned it 30 yards a score with 67 seconds left for the margin of victory. Thomas also got his first kickoff return for a score this season on a 65-yard return.
“I knew I had a make a spectacular play because I had just missed a tackle on the touchdown,” said Thomas. “I knew I had to be a leader and pick my team up. Our DBs were in position, but their receivers played better than us today. Our secondary got exposed today. I’m not going to lie. We all played horribly. We finished strong.”
King (6-1) gave up 335 yards through the air, unheard of in recent years.
“Our secondary made plays when they needed to and that’s fine,” said King coach Tyrone Spencer. “We have to be consistent. I don’t care about youth. You’ve got a junior, a senior and guys out here leading and you have to make plays. We have to get back to the drawing board. We’ve got All-Americans in the secondary.”
The see-saw battle had East English (4-3) ahead, 37-33, with six minutes, 21 seconds left on a 24-yard TD pass from Delvin Washington to Lemuel Watley, the second time the duo hooked up.
The game featured several miscues and big plays:
East English took advantage of a four-yard punt by the Crusaders, getting a 19-yard TD run from Zhamaine March to take a 7-0 lead with 7:07 left in the first quarter.
Jae’Veyon Morton scooped up a Washington fumble and raced 64 yards down the left sideline for King’s first score to make it 7-6.
King quarterback Dequan Finn struggled all day, but spotted a wide open Willis in the middle of the field for a 62-yard TD.
The Bulldogs marched to the King one, got pushed back to the 14 because of penalties and then scored on a 14-yard pass from Washington to Samuel Womack with 3:35 left in the half to make it 19-14.
Finn responded for King with a 28-yard TD run with 2:31 left as the Crusaders regained the lead, 21-19.
The Bulldogs came out firing to start the third quarter and took the lead on a 13-yard pass from Washington to Womack to make it 25-21.
But Thomas took the enusing kickoff 65 yards to regain the lead for King, 27-25.
The Bulldogs again exposed the King secondary with a 59-yard pass from Washington to Watley.