MACOMB TOWNSHIP — The Warren De La Salle football team saw its season end in a 19-14 loss to Macomb Dakota in a Division 1 predistrict matchup played Nov. 4 at Dakota.
The contest was the first between the Pilots (6-4) and Cougars (10-0 at press time) — considered two of the strongest programs in Macomb County. Dakota officials estimated about 6,000 fans attended the playoff affair.
The Nov. 1 matchup between De La Salle and Dakota was a back-and-forth affair. The contest was decided when Dakota senior defensive back/wide receiver Mustafa Abdur-Rahman picked off a pass on fourth-and-10 with 5:55 left in the game to give the ball back to the Cougars. At the time of the pass, the Pilots had the ball at the Dakota 38-yard line.
“Mustafa has been a playmaker all year,” said Dakota coach Mike Giannone regarding Abdur-Rahman, who also hauled in two receiving touchdowns.
De La Salle coach Paul Verska, who guided the Pilots to their eighth straight winning season, said his team had some chances to make some game-changing plays but failed to capitalize on those opportunities.
“We dropped two picks in the first half,” Verska said after the game. “We had opportunities and just didn’t make plays. (Dakota) made more plays than we did — that’s why they won.”
Cougars senior quarterback Tyler Crowell threw for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns. In what would prove to be the game-winning score, Crowell found senior wide receiver Angelo DiMaggio for a 43-yard score as time expired in the third quarter to put Dakota up 19-14.
Verska said he had hoped his team wouldn’t give up big plays. He said inexperience in the secondary led to some breakdowns in that area, including on the winning score.
“We just blew a coverage completely, and a guy was wide open,” Verska said.
De La Salle senior quarterback Giovanni Rescigno rushed 22 times for 165 yards and two touchdowns. His second score put the Pilots up 14-13 with 8:26 to play in the third quarter. De La Salle sophomore running back Eric Rogers picked off Crowell to give the Pilots possession prior to that score.
Dakota recorded 15 first downs, while De La Salle tallied 12.
The playoff appearance was the ninth for De La Salle in the last 13 years.