Detroit King shut down Cass Tech for three quarters, holding on for a 28-23 victory

DETROIT — After three quarters of Friday night football, Detroit Martin Luther King Jr. seemed to have no problem walking off the Detroit Cass Tech field with a win. King led 28-10 heading into the fourth quarter and Cass Tech was limited to less than 100 yards of offense.

But competition is not that simple.

Cass Tech’s two fourth-quarter touchdowns cut the King lead to 28-23 with 2:53 to play. Suddenly King needed to convert a late first down or Cass Tech could get the ball back with a chance to win.

Facing a third-and-2 with under two minutes to play, King senior quarterback Dante Moore finished the game the way he started it with a pass for a big gain. Although Moore didn’t flash his arm strength, he connected with open running back Joshua Rodgers on a short pass that turned into a 31-yard gain to the King 25.

Then King (2-1) was able to take two knees to end the game and capture a 28-23 victory over Cass Tech (1-3).

“It’s a great feeling,” Moore said of the win. “I know we have 48 hours to celebrate… It’s a great feeling to go out and beat an opponent on their home field.”

It took Moore King just four plays to get on the board to open the game with a layup from senior Jameel Croft Jr. connecting with 82-yard strike for the score. Instead of a short pass that seemed to end the game, Moore lofted the ball 50 yards out and hit Croft with his feet as the speedy wide receiver took him the rest of the way.

“I know to put the ball in the air and let him get it,” Moore said.

Moore again showed his arm strength with another pass in the opening semi-final. Although it went down in the books as a 29-yard touchdown completion, the throw was more than enough as Moore was forced to retreat deep into the backfield and roll to his left.

Moore, who spotted Xavier Newsome wide open in the back right corner of the end zone, retreated and was hit in the face by the defender.

“My whole lip went numb because of that,” Moore said. I remember, I pitched out, I threw the ball, and it hit my hat and my teeth bit my lip. The entire left side of my lower lip is numb. Like I said, he’s coming out here, making plays and being a player. Shout out to my team for finding a spot and finding a spot. When I went out, coach[Terrell Patrick]said leave everything on the field tonight.

A touchdown pass to end the half gave the Detroit Kings a 28-10 lead and all the momentum.

In one half of action, Detroit King outscored Cass Tech, 202-38 on offense. Cass Tech’s only touchdown was a 59-yard punt return by Sean Hodges that set Cass Tech up at the 14 yard line.

In fact, Cass Tech didn’t break 100 yards of offense until the fourth quarter.

“I think our guys are going to play hard,” King coach Tyrone Spencer said. “Since week one, we’ve been working every day to improve on defense. We know we have new guys and we’ve continued to improve.”

Cass Tech went over 15 yards on one offensive play of the night. That play turned out to be the Technicians’ last offensive play when senior quarterback Leshawn Mumpfield passed to Elijah Jordan for a 37-yarder with 2:35 to play.

“When we get after the ball, we can’t stop,” Kings defensive lineman Kenny Meriweather said. I feel like when the line gets pressured or the DBs get picks and force all kinds of things, those are the things that win the ball game.”

Merrieweather gave the Kings a 21-7 lead with 8:18 left in the second quarter.

“We came out playing physical and fast, firing on offense,” Merriweather said. “That’s the way it should be. Normally we’re a second-half team, but today we really shot and got physical in the first quarter and second quarter.

After scoring four touchdowns in the first half, King opted to play a little more conservatively to open the second quarter, running the ball and taking the time between plays. Despite only one first down on the opening drive of the third quarter, King nearly wasted half of the quarter before Cass Tech regained possession.

Cass Tech had just 3:38 left in the third quarter.

Cass Tech would score its first touchdown of the second half with 7:24 to play when Leshawn Mumpfield found Corey Sadler Jr. for a seven-yard touchdown pass. After the successful 2-point conversion, King led, 28-16.

King tried to force overtime on the ensuing drive, but starting running back Sterling Anderson and forward Jonathan Slack were among the King players who left the lineup with some injury issues on the play.

A foul on Moore’s head as King attempted a punt set the ball up at the 35-yard line. Three plays later, Mumpfield passed for the final score of the game.

“I don’t know if we let ourselves go,” Spencer said of Cass Tech’s fourth-quarter surge. “I know, offensively, we want to run the ball. I just wish the defense would play a little better by giving up those points at the end. We could have put them by 10 points and I would have been a bit satisfied.

Moore finished the game 15-for-24 passing for 227 yards and three touchdowns. Croft Jr. had 122 receiving yards and a touchdown on four receptions.

Mumpfield finished 11-for-16 for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Cass Tech finished with 29 rushing yards, with neither team going on the ground. King had 70 before leaving the game. Anderson scored a nine-yard touchdown for King in the first quarter and finished the night with 32 yards.

In total, King outgained Cass Tech 297-128 on offense.

The win was King’s first at the current Cass Tech field as his previous win at Cass Tech was when the old Cass Tech school still stood.

“It’s always a big game,” Croft said. “It’s a Super Bowl town.

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