Southfield A&T defensive tackle Reggie Gardner makes a tackle against Clarkston.

Southfield A&T defensive tackle Reggie Gardner makes a tackle against Clarkston.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Southfield A&T football edges Clarkston 20-17 in OAA crossover classic

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Southfield Sun | Published September 4, 2023

 Southfield A&T quarterback Isaiah Marshall evades a Clarkston defender.

Southfield A&T quarterback Isaiah Marshall evades a Clarkston defender.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


SOUTHFIELD — Southfield A&T has one of the most dynamic offenses in the state, and they’ve shown it time and time again behind the arm of quarterback Isaiah Marshall and an offense loaded with playmakers.

So when Southfield A&T called on the offense to put one final drive together as they trailed Clarkston 17-14 with six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Southfield A&T coach Aaron Marshall had every ounce of faith in his quarterback to get the job done.

“The moment is never too big for him,” coach Aaron Marshall said. “He always shows that poise.”

Showcasing his dual-threat ability on the final drive, Marshall would take it himself on a 1-yard touchdown run to give Southfield A&T the 20-17 win over Clarkston Sept. 1 at Southfield A&T High School.

Southfield A&T only scored 20 or fewer points one time in 2022, so the Warriors were in unfamiliar territory when Clarkston held a 10-0 lead with just over a minute left in the first half.

Clarkston, an Oakland Activities Association Red team, brought Southfield more to their speed, utilizing screen plays and outside runs to keep Southfield A&T off balance and break outside containment.

Southfield A&T was driving into Clarkston territory consistently, but the Wolves’ defense would anchor down and get the stop when the team needed it.

With playmakers like wide receivers Tashi Braceful, DaMario Quarles, Xavi Bowman and Jawon Jarrett, you can only keep the Southfield A&T offense contained for so long, especially with the press coverage Clarkston was running.

As Marshall and company drove down the field just before the end of the first half, they knew just how they could exploit the press.

“We knew we could take advantage of it, especially because we like going deep a lot,” Bowman said. “When we figured out that they were taking outside leverage and that if we got outside of him, there would be nobody else around.”

Bowman put his words into existence, hauling in a 57-yard touchdown pass from Marshall with less than a minute left to go down 10-6 at the half. Southfield A&T was facing a fourth and five on the previous play, but a Clarkston offsides kept the drive alive.

In the second half, it was a defensive showing from Southfield A&T as their front seven homed in on the run game.

Aaron Marshall said Clarkston’s discipline offensively caught his guys flat-footed in the first half, but said his team was able to make the proper changes at halftime.

“They’re very well coached,” Marshall said. “We made some adjustments at halftime for sure. You got to stay home with Clarkston because when something is going away, they bring something back. Our boys did a better job in the second half of staying home and just weathering the storm.”

Clarkston had a chance to extend their lead off a Marshall interception that gave them possession near midfield, but the field goal attempt pushed left to keep the game at 10-6 late in the third quarter. In a game-altering play, Marshall was the only Southfield A&T player with a shot at bringing down the Clarkston defender on the interception, and he regained composure and chased him down to keep his team within four points.

Southfield A&T would finally capitalize on a defensive stop as Marshall would connect with Quarles for 18 yards and Braceful for 9 until Clarkston gave them prime field position with a pass interference call. From there, it was all running back Royce Liggins as he took the handoff for a 22-yard touchdown run to give Southfield A&T the 14-10 lead with one minute left in the third quarter.

Clarkston would tack on a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to take the 17-14 lead, and would have a chance to answer Southfield A&T’s late house call with just under two minutes left, especially with the help of Southfield A&T.

Southfield A&T sent the ensuing kickoff out of bounds not once, but twice to give Clarkston field position at the Clarkston 44-yard line. Add on a personal foul by Southfield A&T, and Clarkston would have the ball deep in the red zone at the 15-yard line.

Clarkston went for a misdirection handoff that worked so well all game, but a poor exchange between the Clarkston quarterback and running back would be the downfall as the ball hit the turf and Southfield A&T recovered.

It was unconventional, but Southfield A&T got the job done, and they’ll look to get the offense back on track Sept. 8 when they open up league play in the OAA-White against Harper Woods at Southfield A&T High School.