Detroit Cass Tech opened the Division 1 playoffs with touchdowns on its first two possessions of the game, and the Technicians looked very much like the No. 1 team in the state, if not the universe.
But a determined Dearborn Fordson team held the ball for the final 5:19 of the second quarter and the first 5:57 of the third quarter, so to Cass Tech’s Donovan Johnson it seemed like hours since he had touched the ball.
On Cass’ first play of the third quarter, Johnson took a handoff and raced 79 yards for a touchdown, only to have it called back by one of the Technicians’ many penalties.
After an incomplete pass, Johnson was still gasping for air in the huddle.
“I heard the called the play again,” Johnson said. “I was already tired, breathing hard, but I had to score again. I got the ball, the hole opened right up I ran through it and it was a touchdown.”
That sent the Technicians on their way to a convincing 35-7 victory over Fordson Saturday afternoon.
But this was not an easy game for the Technicians, who had to battle the always-tough Tractors (8-2, No. 10) as well as a parade of penalties — some obvious and some imagined.
Cass Tech (10-0), which plays at Dearborn in the district final next weekend, enjoyed success in the short passing game. After catching a 12-yard TD pass to begin the game, Marc Oliver caught a pass in the flat and zoomed 46 yards for a 14-0 lead.
“They were bailing, kind of, so they were off 10 or 12 yards,” Oliver said. “So it opened up the flats for the slots. It opened up a lot for us so we were finally able to show what we’re capable of.”
This Cass team is capable of not losing again this season — and no one knows that like Fordson coach Walker Zaban, whose teams have been knocked out of the playoffs by the Technicians in six of the last eight seasons.
“I think athletically they have more dangerous guys,” Zaban said. “They’re solid up front as well. I think this is probably one of their best teams. They have various ways they can hurt you. They can run the ball.
“Obviously they have Donovan Johnson and (Jaylen) Kelly-Powell, who are extremely fast and they can go to the outside. I know everyone thinks of Donovan Peoples-Jones, but they have three or four other kids that can play.”
Peoples-Jones made his presence known with a leaping interception as well as catching a screen pass from Rodney Hall that he turned into a 36-yard touchdown.
“Rodney and the coaches found a flaw in the defense and they checked out of what we were originally going to and checked into the screen pass,” Peoples-Jones said. “That was just a great play call by the coaches. I had two wonderful blocks by our two slots.”
The blocks came via Oliver and Teone Allen, two of the “other kids” Zaban was referring to as legitimate threats.
The Cass defense relentlessly pressured Fordson’s outstanding quarterback, Hamze Elzayat, who spent the afternoon running for his life.
“When you’re loaded with talent, they’re going to get after you,” Zaban said. “Yeah, we didn’t do a good job of protecting, but I want to give credit to our O-line. The whole year, they had a great year. But today they met their match and didn’t hold up.”s
Cass Tech may have no match in this state … or the universe.
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1