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Midland Dow rolls past Fenton in district final behind Robb’s big game

By: Bill Khan, November 6, 2015, 11:53 pm

FENTON — Midland Dow football opponents used to get a bit of a breather.

As long as they had the ball, they didn’t have to worry about going up against Mike Robb.

That comfort zone no longer exists.

Chargers coach Jason Watkins started using Robb on defense in the regular-season finale, with spectacular results.

Robb excelled in all three phases of the game on Friday night, as 10th-ranked Midland Dow beat Fenton, 41-14, in a Division 2 district championship game.

The 6-foot-6 senior, who is a Division I prospect, caught seven passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns, blocked a punt and intercepted a pass to set up a touchdown.

The interception was his fourth in three games playing defense. He returned an interception for a touchdown against Midland in Week 9, then did it again against the crosstown rival Chemics in the playoff rematch last week.

"He’s always been a special teams and offensive player for us," Dow coach Jason Watkins said. "We only moved him up to defense two weeks ago. It’s something we saw in the scheme of things and the teams we were playing against. There was an opportunity to use his athleticism and some of his natural instincts. He’s been on a pretty good little run the last couple weeks."

Robb enjoys what he’s doing in whatever role he’s given.

"I love playing football," he said. "Wherever coach wants to put me, that’s where I’ll play."

And what about all of those interceptions?

"Right time, right place," he said.

Robb’s performance on Friday would’ve been a career highlight for most players, but it may be only his second-best game this season. In the Week 9 game against Midland, he scored five touchdowns.

"It’s exciting," he said. "I want to say I’m more of a consistent player, but I’ve had some outbursts the past couple of weeks."

Those outbursts have helped Dow win two playoff games for only the third time in school history. The other two teams who won twice in the postseason played for state championships. The 1976 squad won both of its games to take the Class A title in an era when the postseason consisted of only two rounds. The 1997 team won three games before losing in the Class A championship game when the playoffs were four rounds.

"It’s a big win for the development of the program," Watkins said. "Since 2010, this is our fourth trip to this round; we came away empty each time. It’s nice to be able to finish that and get that district championship. It’s a good landmark for us. Let’s try to grow the program."

Dow lost in the second round each of the last two years.

"It feels great," Dow senior receiver Justin Cook said. "I’ve been on two losing teams in the district finals the past two years. The third time’s the charm, I guess. It feels really good to finally get the win. We’re clicking at the right time. We’re getting better each week."

Dow has another player performing at an elite level. Junior quarterback Bruce Mann, a transfer from Bay City Western, was 16-for-29 for 261 yards and five touchdowns. He has 35 touchdown passes and only four interceptions this season.

"Everything’s just clicking right now," said Mann, who also ran 15 times for 68 yards. "It’s clicking with all the receivers. All the linemen are doing a great job, giving us time to throw the ball."

Dow scored just 50 seconds into the game on a 69-yard pass from Mann to Robb. The Chargers scored touchdowns on five of their first seven drives, taking a 35-7 lead early in the third quarter. Four of those touchdown drives took four plays or less.

After falling behind 14-0 on a 14-yard pass from Mann to Cook, Fenton got back in the game on a 3-yard touchdown run by Dylan Crankshaw with 1:03 left in the first quarter.

The Chargers would score the next three touchdowns on a 12-yard pass from Mann to Robb, a 27-yard pass from Mann to Eric Hus and a 2-yard run by Johnny Wilson.

Fenton was thwarted on three runs from the 1-yard line after moving 79 yards in 16 plays following Wilson’s touchdown. The Tigers did score on their next drive, with Shane Kolinski running it in from four yards out with 1:50 left in the third quarter. Wilson completed the scoring by catching a screen pass from Mann and taking it 22 yards to the house with 5:38 remaining in the game.

Dow has beaten Fenton twice in three playoff meetings over the past six seasons. Fenton won 24-0 in 2010 before Dow won 30-21 two years ago.

Fenton (9-2) has won nine games in four of the last five years, but has never won 10 games in school history.

"At times we’re playing nine of 11 on offense who are underclassmen," Fenton coach Jeff Setzke said. "You hope they learn from it and come back stronger next year. We’ll have some defensive guys to replace, but Fenton football is not going away. The future still looks bright. This is the time of year when you want to win games. We have to do a better job in November."

Dow will travel to second-ranked Walled Lake Western (11-0) next week in the regional championship round.