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October 23, 2013

Chippewa Valley falls to Dakota

Dominant performance by Cougars overwhelms Big Reds

By Thomas Franz
C & G Sports Writer

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — It didn’t take long for the Dakota Cougars to announce that they had no intentions of letting Chippewa Valley break the nine-year winning streak that the Cougars hold over the Big Reds.

Two plays, in fact, are all that it took. After Dakota’s defense forced an opening three-and-out, Dakota senior quarterback Tyler Crowell connected with Angelo DiMaggio on a 34-yard touchdown on the Cougars’ second offensive play of the night.

Dakota (8-0) outscored Chippewa 42-7 in the first half before winning 52-7.

“It was a complete breakdown on our part. They’re (Dakota) a great team, and they did a great job,” Chippewa coach Scott Merchant said. “We expected a tough game, and we had a good week of practice. We’ve had a good season up until this point, so I didn’t see this coming.”

Dakota’s defense smothered a Chippewa offense that came into the showdown of unbeaten teams averaging 35 points per game. The backfield pair of Troy Taylor and Doug Roberts that came into the Dakota game with a combined 1,139 rushing yards was held to 39 yards on 10 carries for the night.

Dakota coach Mike Giannone said that building up the confidence of an already stout defense was key to preparing for Chippewa’s rushing attack.

“We told the defense that they’re big, they’re strong, the running back is fast, and the quarterback is good. On Wednesday, we finally told our guys that we’re pretty good, too, because we couldn’t just keep beating them down, and we had to have some confidence. It seemed like we came in with some confidence tonight,” Giannone said.

After an interception by Dakota’s Robert Campbell on Chippewa’s second possession, the Cougars’ offense proved to be as equally effective as its defense. Zachary Flack scored twice on short yardage runs to give Dakota a 20-0 lead with less than a minute left in the first quarter.

The lone bright spot in the game for Chippewa came immediately after Flack’s second score, when Brendan Rohlfs hit Kyle Muller on a seam route that went for an 80-yard touchdown.

Dakota responded immediately after with a three-play drive that was capped off with a 26-yard touchdown run from Maurice Moon, who would score again midway through the second quarter to give Dakota a 34-7 lead.

Moon finished the night with 104 yards on 10 carries. His backfield mate, Benji Marshall, carried 12 times for 67 yards. Marshall also had two catches for 76 yards. 

After Dakota’s Niko Savich forced a turnover on the first play of the ensuing possession, Dakota took over on the Big Reds’ 16-yard line and did not take its time in scoring again.

Crowell connected with Marshall on a 16-yard touchdown on the first play of the drive to give the Cougars a 42-7 lead going into halftime. Crowell finished the night with 122 yards passing, while sparking an offense that often took a back seat to Dakota’s defense, which had given up an average of five points per game this year.

“It feels really good, because our defense has carried us pretty much the whole year, but it shows that our offense is good and we can compete with everyone in the state,” Crowell said.

Austin Neumann capped off the scoring for the night with a 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Dakota kicker Pasquale Madonna connected on a 31-yard field goal in the third quarter, and all eight of his kickoffs went for touchbacks in the end zone.

Dakota, ranked No. 2 in the state in Division 1 by the Associated Press for week eight, will travel to Roseville to cap off the regular season next week while Chippewa (7-1) will host Port Huron.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Thomas Franz at tfranz@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1040.