Some important questions were answered Friday night at Withington Community Stadium at the 2013 Promise Bowl between Jackson High and Lumen Christi.
#1) – Lumen Christi is much more than just junior running back Khari Willis.
#2)- The Jackson Vikings are a team on the rise if they play each game with the same grit and determination they displayed through four quarters in this one.
In the end, Lumen Christi captured its second straight Promise Bowl Championship with a 43-14 win in front of a packed house, but this one wasn’t the route many expected. And it was closer than the final score indicated.
The Titans struck first on a pair of touchdown runs from the junior, Willis, covering 9 and 37 yards to open a 14-0 lead. But unlike past teams, perhaps, Coach Scott Farley’s first Vikings squad dug in and punched back.
Jackson quarterback Javon Greca, who showed remarkable poise all night running the Viking offense, scrambled out of trouble and hit Alex Carter on a short touchdown pass. Greca then connected with Ray Robinson for the 2-point conversion, and suddenly the would-be route was a 14-8 ballgame. The Vikings also had a long punt return for a touchdown called back on a penalty, or the game may have been tied at that point.
But Lumen Christi took advantage of good field position and calmly went back to work.
Titan QB Coley Crowley hit wideout Matt Bullinger on a 23 yard pass late in the second quarter to make it 21-8 and then – and this was perhaps the final and most devastating blow – Crowley hit Bullinger again on a 28 yard strike mere seconds before halftime. The 28 yarder was a perfectly thrown ball, just beyond the outstretched arms of a Viking defender, into the hands of Bullinger, who caught it in stride and steamrolled in for the touchdown.
The 14-8, one possession game was gone, and it was 28-8 at halftime. Order, at least for the Lumen Christi faithful, had been restored.
“This win is all about the team,” all-everything Titan weapon Devon Barrett said. “We are not just a one man show. Khari (Willis) got us rolling early, but we needed help from all of our guys, and we got it.”
Barrett wrapped things up for the Titans with a 60 yard touchdown run late, capped by the 2-point conversion.
“We knew this game was not going to be easy,” Barrett said.
The sneaky running back, who finished with over 100 yards rushing on a variety of delayed draw plays in which the Vikings didn’t know he had the ball until he was well downfield, also cleared up some confusion for me. His first name is pronounced ‘Devin,’ as opposed to ‘dev-ON.’
“You can pronounce it however you want as long as we win,” he laughed.
“It’s great to get this win,” Titan Matt Bullinger said. “The two touchdowns I caught were so perfectly thrown from Coley (Crowley) I didn’t have to do anything but stick my hands out. We have a long way to go, but this is a big win.”
For Jackson High the loss will sting, but the heart, effort and toughness the Vikings displayed (including the tough Jerome Bettis-style running of Isaac Coppage) will continue to be building blocks as this program looks to gain traction in one of the toughest conferences in the state.
The Vikings scored their final touchdown on a 63 yard kick return by speedster Corey Pryor.
Lumen Christi (2-0) will put this one behind them and get ready for Jackson Western next Friday night while the Vikings (0-2) take to the road for a matchup with East Lansing.