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Macomb Township

November 19, 2013

Dakota football falls to Cass Tech in regional final

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
The Macomb Dakota football team suffered its first loss of the season in a 32-17 setback to Detroit Cass Tech in a 2013 MHSAA D-1 regional final Nov. 16. Pictured is Cougars sophomore running back Benji Marshall after scoring the game’s first touchdown Nov. 16.

DETROIT — The Macomb Dakota football team took a 17-7 lead into the locker room during its 2013 Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 regional against Detroit Cass Tech Nov. 16.

That first half saw the Cougars, on the road, hold the Technicians to just three first downs. Cass Tech, the two-time defending D-1 state champion, also hurt itself with seven penalties, including four on offense.

The second half was a totally different story, as the Technicians outscored the Cougars 25-0 to capture a third straight D-1 regional title in a 32-17 win.

Detroit Cass Tech junior quarterback Jayru Campbell said he and his teammates had a long talk at halftime about how badly they played in the first half.

“As a team, I would say our performance was a 10 out of 10 in the second half,” said Campbell, who ran for two 61-yard scores and a 7-yard score in the regional final. The first 61-yard run came on a read option play with 6:06 left in the first half and was Cass Tech’s first score. The second came on a scramble with 6:37 left in the game to put the Technicians up 32-17.

“There was nothing to the right side of the field, so I went back to the left and I had a lot of blockers. The offensive line did a great job in the second half of blocking,” said Campbell, who also threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Andre Cook. “We just needed to stay poised and take control. At halftime, we just made up our minds that we had to play harder.”

An interception in the end zone by Cass Tech senior wide receiver Damon Webb with 9:14 to play set up Campbell’s second touchdown run.

“They just kept doing their thing, and they busted a couple of big plays,” Dakota coach Mike Giannone said. “They went bump coverage on our receivers, and we couldn’t get off of them. I thought our guys played really well, but when you get the momentum going one way, it’s hard to get it back.”

A 6-yard touchdown run by Cougars sophomore running back Benji Marshall with 1:05 to play in the first quarter put Dakota (11-1) up 10-0, after Cougars senior kicker Pasquale Madonna nailed a 20-yard field goal try at 6:48 of the first quarter to put Dakota on the board. A 71-yard punt return by senior defensive back/wide receiver Mustafa Abdur-Rahman set up the field goal attempt.

The Cougars, which won D-1 state titles in 2006 and 2007, went up 17-7 with 26.4 seconds left in the first half, when senior quarterback Tyler Crowell found senior wideout Brendan Mangan for a 9-yard score.

A 16-yard touchdown run from Cass Tech junior running back Mike Weber with 8:10 to play in the third quarter, which brought the Technicians within four at 17-13, started the run that would put Dakota away.

“We don’t lose at home. We haven’t lost at home in six years,” Campbell said. “It’s the playoffs. These are different circumstances. We have to play well.”

In that second half, Cass Tech found the end zone on its first four possession, while Dakota went three-and-out the first three times it had the ball. Cass Tech’s defense did not record a three-and-out in the first half.

“You kind of feel a little bit helpless,” said Giannone, who led the Cougars to their second straight Macomb Area Conference Red Division title. “They’re a good football team. They made some (early) mistakes and we capitalized, but then after that, they didn’t make any and we did, and they capitalized.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jason Carmel Davis at jdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1107. Twitter Follow Jason on Twitter.