It had been eight days since Detroit Cass Tech lost to Detroit King in the Public School League championship game, but to Cass quarterback Rodney Hall it seemed like it had only been eight hours.
“I had a talk with all my teammates,” said the junior quarterback, who was still stinging from the loss. “I don’t think I played very well. I didn’t get things going on offense. That’s why I took that blame. I told them I feel that’s on me.”
If that loss was on Hall, then maybe the way Cass began the Division 1 playoffs should be on him, too.
Hall completed 13 of 14 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns in the first half Saturday as Cass Tech drilled Warren Mott, 39-7, in a district semifinal game.
After a subpar performance the week before, Hall completed his first 11 passes against Mott (6-4).
“I didn’t even know that,” Hall said. “On offense, everything was clicking. Everybody played good; all my receivers were catching the ball. I do remember that incompletion. I threw it off my back foot and I threw it kind of lazy.”
There was nothing lazy about Hall or junior receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, who had five receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown — and had his usual signature catch. Late in the first half Hall lofted the ball into double-coverage, but Peoples-Jones swiped the ball out of a defender’s hands for a 36-yard gain.
“That was a great play,” gushed Hall. “It was pretty much a great catch because the defender had it above his head and Donovan came over and took it out of his hands. That was just a great catch on him.”
Peoples-Jones didn’t look at it like Hall was throwing into double-coverage. He figured Hall was giving him an opportunity to make a play.
“It was still a good throw,” Peoples-Jones insisted. “It was a post route. Rodney pretty much threw it up. He trusted me to come get it and I came down with it.”
In the first quarter Peoples-Jones came down with a 33-yard catch to set up Hall’s one-yard TD sneak, and his 36-yard stop-and-snatch set up Tim Cheatem’s 7-yard run.
Michigan high school football first round scores
A poor snap on a punt attempt gave Cass (8-2, No. 7 in Division 1) the ball on Mott’s 11-yard line and on the next play Hall rifled a TD score Paul Marcel for a 19-0 lead with 2:10 left in the first quarter.
A 23-yard TD strike to Peoples-Jones followed by a pick-six by Nelton Shorter gave Cass a 33-0 halftime lead and Mott had its third consecutive state playoff loss to the Technicians.
“You have to play near error-free and not do some of the egregious that we did,” said Mott coach Tom Milanov. “When you do some of the poorer things we did in the first half, you can’t expect to be in the game.”
And it’s tough to be in the game when Peoples-Jones is ripping the ball away from your defensive backs.
“I can’t think of one better that I’ve seen in 20 years of coaching,” Milanov said of Peoples-Jones. “He’s pretty friggin’ good.”
Milanov said the same about Hall and the entire Cass Tech team, which sent a message to the rest of Division 1.
“We came out with a little chip on our shoulder,” Hall said. “Teams were thinking we’re going to play down because we’ve got two losses. People think that we weren’t good. It feels good to come out and put on a show and just show everybody that we can still ball.”
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.