Dakota’s Defense wills them to a 17-9 Win Over Fordson
Even with all the distractions facing the program this week, Macomb Dakota still managed to escape with a 17-9 win over Dearborn Fordson in the opener at the Prep Kickoff Classic Thursday night.
Two of it’s best defensive players, senior leaders David Basirico (Central Michigan), and Mustafa Abdur-Rahman were suspended two games each for disciplinary reasons. The vacancy in the defensive backfield left by Basirico and Abdur-Rahman gave players like Zach Flack the opportunity make plays, and Flack did just that.
Arguably the play of the game, in a 7-6 defensive struggle late in the half, Fordson was looking to take the lead deep inside Dakota’s territory. Quarterback Ali Naji dropped back, looked to his right, threw the ball, and it was intercepted by Flack. Flack raced up the sideline, with Naji in hot pursuit for the 89-yard pick six. Instead of it being 13-7 Fordson, Dakota had pushed their lead to 14-6.
"When I caught it I was just running fast as I could, making sure no one could catch me", Flack said. "I saw No.7 out of the corner of my eye, and I just kept running, making sure he wouldn’t catch me at an angle. I definitely think that was a momentum changer for us, because it took awhile for our defense to get started," Flack added. "Someone needed to make a play, and it was the defense."
Dakota’s only other touchdown on the night came earlier in the second quarter when senior quarterback Tyler Crowell threw a bullet in between two defenders to receiver Daniel Crawford with 10:56 left before halftime for the 7-6 lead. Crowell finished 10-17, for 99 yards and a touchdown, although he didn’t finish the game.
Fordson’s newly installed offense started the game off well, running the ball straight through Dakota and finding the end zone on their second possession. Running back Hady Bandar rumbled in for a score with 5:53 left in the first from two yards out to take the early 6-0 lead. Bandar was named the game’s most outstanding player for Fordson, rushing for 127 yards and a touchdown, on 27 attempts.
The game remained a one possession game the entire second half, as neither team could pull away, or capitalize on opportunities. Fordson had several chances to come back and tie things at 17-17 late in the game. Jamil Sabbagh’s 53-yard punt return up the sidelines gave the Tractors great field position inside Dakota’s 30-yard line. But just four plays later, John Hall of Dakota jumped in front of Naji’s pass, intercepting it and ending Fordson’s scoring threat. Fordson would get another opportunity to score after Dakota failed to record a first down on their possession. And once again Fordson was able to drive deep inside Dakota territory before turning the ball over on downs. Extracting revenge from last season’s 27-17 loss to Fordson, Dakota managed to squeeze out a 17-9 win heading into next week’s divisional game between Sterling Heights Stevenson.