Phillips takes charge, leads Dearborn past rival Fordson
Dearborn — The last time Dearborn senior quarterback Michael Phillips played against Fordson he let the moment get the best of him in a lopsided loss. Dearborn head coach John Powell, however, still had faith in his signal caller.
“I wouldn’t take any other quarterback in the state. Phillips always puts this team in the right spot. He was on this field as a 10th grader, and this time he didn’t let the moment get too big for him,” Powell said.
“Tonight, he always made the right choice, and he never turned the ball over.”
Phillips and the Pioneers were down early, but used a big third quarter to beat Fordson, 28-23, for the first time in three seasons.
Dearborn (7-1, 5-0 WWAC Red) held an early lead, 7-0, in the first quarter thanks to a 37-yard touchdown run by senior running back Hussien Hannawi, but a 100-yard kick return by Fordson sophomore Abe Jaafar erased the lead, 7-7, in 12 seconds.
The Fordson defense was opportunistic and gave its offense great field position through most of the first half. After the Tractors (7-1, 5-0 WWAC Blue) partially blocked a punt, senior quarterback Hamze Elzayat capped a six-play drive with an 11-yard touchdown run for a 14-7 lead.
Dearborn would tie the game, 14-14 with 2:17 left in the half on the behind the legs of Hannawi (20 carries 129 yards 2 TDs, 5 rec. 32 yards). The 5-foot-8 senior capped off a 12-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run for his second rushing touchdown of the half.
Then, Phillips took over.
Phillips marched Dearborn down the field in its opening drive of the second half. Phillips finished the 13-play drive when he found a wide-open man in junior receiver Youseph Saad for a 23-yard touchdown pass for a 21-14 lead.
Two drives later, Phillips (9-for-16 79 yards, TD; 10 carries 58 yards 1 TD) torched the Tractor defense with his legs on third down when he scrambled for 41 yards down to the two yard line to keep the drive alive. Phillips ended the drive with a 1-yard quarterback sneak for a 28-14 lead with 22 seconds left in the third quarter.
“This was the biggest game of my career, easily,” he said. “We had more experience than we did a few years ago, and we kept fighting. We wanted that Cipriano trophy really bad, and we weren’t going to let anyone stop us from getting it.”
Fordson didn’t go quietly behind the play of Elzayat late in the fourth quarter. The senior signal caller found Jamiel Abdellatif for a 6-yard touchdown pass to cut into the lead, 28-21.
Dearborn was forced into a precarious position late as its offense began to stall as it tried to run out the clock. With 12 second left in the game, Dearborn had to punt from its own 36 yard line.
Instead of kicking the ball away, senior Hassan Beydoun took the snap and ran to the back of the endzone with a throng of Tractors chasing him before surrendering a safety, 28-23 with one second left.
On the free kick, Fordson tried to lateral the ball numerous times until Mustafa Shukr ran the ball down the sidelines and was met by a trailing Beydoun to force him out of bounds to preserve the win.
“We didn’t play the situation well at the end. Hassan made a great tackle. It’s how rivalry games work out. They fought to the bitter end,” Powell said.
“We never practiced that before. We do practice onsides kicks, and similar stuff throughout the week, but nothing like you saw tonight.”