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Cass Tech forces late turnover, slips past Fordson in district final

By: Branden Hunter, November 7, 2014, 11:33 pm

DEARBORN, Mich. – Five weeks ago against East English Village Prep, Cass Tech senior, Keshawn Gilmore, sealed a 21-16 win with a late goal line interception. Gilmore was the man of the hour once again tonight, with his interception at the 2-yard line, to help Cass Tech edge Fordson 28-21.

"I just had to make a play for my brothers, and that was it," Gilmore laughed. "I saw the ball going up, and I had to make a play.

"We are known for coming back, and we really had to grind for this win. Fordson was well coached, but we made better plays."

With both teams knotted at 14-14 at the half, this game had that feeling of, last team with the ball wins. Cass Tech took a 20-14 lead with 1:45 left in the third, on an interception return for touchdown by Donovan Johnson, but Fordson fought right back.

Senior quarterback Muhammed Zahr found fellow senior, Abdallah Jaffal, wide open on a 33-yard touchdown, to put the Tractors back up 21-20 with 11:06 to go.

"Our defense did bend a few times on the night, especially with that last touchdown to them," said Cass Tech head coach Thomas Wilcher. "But our kids fought to the end, and made plays when it mattered. I just hope we can continue to get better, and learn from this."

Fordson (10-1) had the ball, up one with 4:33 remaining, and probably could have milked the clock. But Cass Tech’s defense came up with a crucial fumble at the Tractors 14-yard line, giving them new life. Five plays later, Mike Weber punched it in from 1-yard out, to allow Cass Tech to go ahead for good, at 28-21. Weber rushed for 129 yards, and four scores.

"There was no doubt who was going to carry the ball," Wilcher said. "I think the most important thing was, what was the line going to do. They did what they were supposed to do, and everybody knew where the ball was going, and Mike did Mike."

Fordson played Cass Tech tough in the first half, scoring on their opening drive, to take a 7-0 lead with 5:44 left in the first. But three turnovers in the second half, at vital moments in the game, was their demise. The loss was the fourth time Fordson had lost to Cass Tech in the state playoffs since 2009. 

Cass Tech (11-0) also won its fifth straight district title, and will play Chippewa Valley at home next weekend. The Big Reds might want to keep an eye out for No.2 on defense for Cass Tech, if the game comes down to the wire.