MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Following a 52-7 victory in the regular football season against Chippewa Valley, Macomb Dakota did not take the Big Reds lightly in a rematch between the two teams in a district final contest.
Dakota took advantage of a huge momentum swing late in the second quarter to win 34-14.
Down 17-7, Chippewa failed to come away with points after driving inside the Dakota 10-yard line with less than two minutes left before halftime. Dakota proceeded to go 83 yards in five plays to score on a 49-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Crowell to Benji Marshall with four seconds left in the half to go up 24-7.
“It was unbelievable. We called the route, and Marshall made the catch. That was huge,” Dakota coach Mike Giannone said. “I thought our guys played extremely well. It’s a difficult thing coming and playing a good football team, and we did not take them lightly.”
Troy Taylor’s 2-yard touchdown carry cut the Dakota lead 24-14 early in the third quarter. Taylor rushed for 122 yards on 19 carries, while his backfield mate, Doug Roberts, added 67 yards on 12 carries.
“I’m proud of our offensive line. I thought they played well. Our two backs ran really hard, and I thought we moved the ball well, and we had some opportunities to score some points against a really good defense,” Chippewa coach Scott Merchant said.
On the ensuing possession after Taylor’s touchdown, the Cougars answered right back with a touchdown drive of their own, as Zachary Flack broke through the Chippewa defensive line for a 55-yard touchdown carry. Flack finished the game with 85 yards on five carries, but Maurice Moon was the backfield leader for Dakota, as he picked up 130 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown.
“I thought Moon played outstanding. He was just a bull. Last time we played Chippewa, he had 107 yards, and this time we told him that he’s got to be able to do the same thing,” Giannone said.
Mustafa Abdur-Rahman impacted the contest with three big plays for Dakota. On special teams, Abdur-Rahman took a Chippewa punt on the Big Reds’ first possession back for a 37-yard touchdown. On the field goal block late in the half, Abdur-Rahman broke through the Chippewa line cleanly to block the 22-yard attempt. He also sealed the game for Dakota with an interception midway through the fourth quarter.
“He’s a playmaker, and that’s what he does. He wants the ball, but we can’t give it to him every time. He does a good job for us, that’s for sure,” Giannone said. “Special teams have been good all year. The punt return on the first possession was a good way to start, and we blocked a field goal; that was a great block by Mustafa (Abdur-Rahman) on the edge. He made the call and said he could do it. Sometimes, you have to trust the kids.”
Chippewa gave Dakota a much better game than the regular-season meeting between the two schools, but the Big Reds (9-2) couldn’t overcome mistakes in key moments.
“We can’t make the mistakes that we made or miss those opportunities. I’m proud of my kids; they played really hard. We were able to come out and show what we’re really capable of. That game was closer than the score, but obviously, a lot different than the first game. We’re proud that they at least had a chance to come out and redeem themselves somewhat,” Merchant said.
Dakota will take on Cass Tech, the two-time defending state champions, in a regional final contest that will be played at Cass Tech. The date and time of the contest were not available at press time.