FOOTBALL: Trifecta of barn-burners in Oakland County kick the 2012 postseason off in style
Oakland County featured three opening-round playoff classics on the prep gridiron Friday evening – a trio of high-intensity affairs ending climatically with courageous defensive-stops on the final play of the game.
Here’s a recap;
In a rematch of a Week 1 thriller, Southfield defeated PSL champion Detroit King 22-19, after senior tailback Gerald Gates scored a go-ahead two-yard touchdown to give his team the lead and junior linebacker Jordan Cry sacked King quarterback Da’Vaun Williams on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line in the closing seconds to clinch the victory for the Bluejays (7-3).
Gates was a terror all game long, carrying the ball 32 times for a career-high 205 yards and two touchdowns to fuel Southfield’s offense.
The Bluejays led 14-7 at the half before falling behind 19-14 going into the fourth quarter.
Southfield’s game-winning touchdown was set-up via a beautifully-executed 88-yard drive engineered by senior signal caller Tre Walton, who accounted for a rushing touchdown in the first half of play himself, too.
When Southfield and King met up in Week 1, it was a similar outcome with Southfield prevailing 21-20 in overtime after rallying back from a late fourth-quarter deficit.
Head coach Tim Conley and his Bluejays will be seeking their second straight district title next week Southfield takes on Oak Park in a Division 2 district championship game. Oak Park downed Southfield earlier in the season in overtime on its way to winning the Oakland Activities Association White Division crown.
Auburn Hills Avondale (9-1) also needed a goal-line stand in the final moments to survive and advance onto the next round in the Yellow Jackets 21-19 edging of Bloomfield Hills Lahser.
Junior lineman Mitch Williams broke into Lahser’s backfield on a two-point conversion attempt to knock away a pass from Knights quarterback Spencer McCourt, sewing up the Avondale win and sending the Yellow Jackets into a Division 3 district finals clash with defending state champion Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
McCourt had just previously tossed a 15-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Collin Feilla in the closing seconds to pull Lahser (6-4) to within a two-point conversion of tying the game.
A Knights’ missed extra-point earlier in the game proved costly.
Michael Johnson, Avondale’s all-league senior running back carried the ball 23 times for a game-high 185 yards and two touchdowns to headline the Yellow Jackets’ in the stat sheet offensively.
Facing the prospect of its season being on the verge of coming to a conclusion at the hands of a spunky Farmington squad, Walled Lake Western converted a fourth-down pass play for a 25-yard touchdown connection between junior quarterback Kyle Bambard and senior wide receiver Nik Heglin to put the Warriors’ ahead for good and spark them to the 31-28 win
Western’s defense rose to the task on the game’s final possession and recovered a Farmington fumble inside the Warriors’ red zone to secure the spine-tingling triumph for head coach Mike Zdebski and his troops.
Bambard was 7-of-17 passing on the night for 172 yards and two touchdowns, both to Heglin.
As a sophomore last fall, Bambard caught fire under center and navigated Western into the Division 2 state semifinals.
Farmington took a 28-24 lead with less than five minutes remaining on Friday when senior safety Isaiah Gourdine returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown. Gourdine, committed to play his college pigskin in the Big East at Cincinnati, had a touchdown catch on the evening as well, hauling in a 26-yard scoring grab from senior field general Troy Mitchell.
All-league senior tailback Jordan Degreffenreed accumulated over 200 yards of total offense for Farmington (6-4), including rushing the rock 37 times for 175 yards and scoring a touchdown on the ground.