Detroit, MI.- In the first game at Adams Field at Wayne State University’s campus, the Oak Park Knights were looking to exact revenge on the Utica Eisenhower Eagles. The Eagles opened up last season defeating the Knights and the Eagles are one of the top-ranked schools in the state as they are every year.
On Oak Parks first drive of the game, Phillip Stewart picked up 17 yards on a third-and-1 to get inside the 5 to set up a TD, then broke loose for 31 yards to set up the second score for a 13-0 cushion. Stewart would finish with 180 yards on 14 carries on the afternoon, including a highlight 29-yard TD run on fourth down to open a 25-13 lead late in the third quarter.
Ohio State-bound quarterback Dwan Mathis showed why he is considered one of the top players in the state. The foot 5 inch senior set up the first touchdown on the opening series by hooking up with Sacari Reese for 24 yards on a third-and-13 play, leading to Mathis’ 4-yard TD run.
Oak Park increased the lead to 13-0 with a 78-yard drive, with Mathis scrambling away from a rush under heavy pressure and finding Jesse Brown in the end zone for a 26-yard perfectly placed TD pass as Brown was flanked with two defenders.
Things just got worse for Eisenhower on its next series with first-year starting quarterback Blake Rastigue getting the ball stripped on an option run by Dondi Price and Enzo Jennings scooping the ball up and running 49 yards for a TD and 19-0 cushion just 28 seconds after Mathis’ TD pass.
Oak Park had the opportunity to increase the 19-0 lead following a short Eisenhower punt that gave it the ball at the 39. But Oak Park self-destructed on the drive, opening the door for Eisenhower to get back in the game.
Multiple penalties set Oak Park back to its own 39, then Stewart was stripped by Jai-Javante Reid and Eisenhower’s Kaelen Duda pounced on the ball at the Oak Park 29.
Eisenhower took advantage of the turnover when Rastigue found running back Caleb Oyster over the middle for a TD pass on the first play to cut the deficit to 19-6 with seven minutes left in the half.
Oak Park gave Eisenhower life and Rastigue much-needed confidence, and Eisenhower used the momentum to pull within 19-13 at halftime.
Rastigue engineered an 80-yard drive, connecting on 5-of-6 passes for 83 yards, finding Oyster three times for 56 yards, including a 31-yard TD on a third-and-10 screen pass with 29 seconds left.
Eisenhower had a chance to tie or take the lead early in the third quarter. Rastigue led Eisenhower from its own 27 to the Oak Park 22, but his third- and fourth-down passes were incomplete.
Rastigue finished 14-of-25 for 201 yards with Oyster having six receptions for 105 yards and accounting for 168 all-purpose yards.
Mathis, who scored on a 1-yard run with 7:36 left to open up a 31-13 lead, completed 9-of-13 passes for 72 yards, throwing just one pass during the second half when Oak Park had 167 rushing yards.
“Coming in our game plan was to run the ball through the tackles,” Mathis stated. “It wasn’t to play pretty ball or run around and throw it. It was a message to send back after what they did to us last year (Eisenhower 24-7 win), and it showed we’re on the right track.”