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A tale of two halves, Cass Tech uses dominant 2nd half to win Regions over Dakota 32-17
Cass Corridor, Detroit -- This Saturday afternoon was the perfect weekend for high school football as teams like Dakota and Cass Tech looked to earn their ride to Troy Athens to meet Detroit Catholic Central. As expected Cass Tech would be hosting another maximum capacity game, much like the 2011 between the two teams when Cass Tech defeated the Dakota Cougars 31-19.
Cass Tech would begin with the ball at their own 29 and used a 17 yard screen, from Michigan State 2015 QB Jayru Campbell to another major 2015 prospect in Mike Weber who will decide between SEC, Big 10 and a wide array of offers in 2014. Cass Tech would go 3 and out following the screen and punted the ball into the hands into one of the most dangerous players through 2 weeks of playoffs in 2014 DB/WR/KR Mustafa Abdur-Rahman who took the punt 70 yards to the 9 yard line. Dakota attempted runs and a brought Sophomore, WR/RB Benji Marshall in motion to the middle but on the snap misdirected his run to the flat but the Cass Tech's defense speed saved a touchdown. Dakota's brought in Pasquale Madonna to kick the 22 yard field goal from the right hash. Madonna was feeling it on kickoffs, booting it past the goal line on each kickoff. With 6:48 remaining in the first quarter, Dakota held the early 3-0 lead.
Cass Tech would pick up where they left off on offense, thanks to a swarming defense led by SR LB Niko Savich and forced another 3 and out. After the 3 play, 2:20 drive by Cass Tech, Dakota started at their own 34 with 4:27 left in the opening quarter. Dakota only needed 3:22 to get into the redzone, where Benji Marshall could of waltzed into the endzone backwards, thanks to an enormous hole by the Dakota offensive line. Marshall's rushing touchdown extended Dakota's lead to 10-0 with just over 1 minute remaining in the opening half. (Watch the touchdown)
Cass again would have to punt and Dakota would take the ball into CT territory but a CT player got his helmet on the ball, prying it from the Dakota player's hands and right into Johnny Miggins hands and Cass had new life. Cass began at their own 35 and soon after Cass took advantage of the turnover. Dakota rushed to the outside and Cass Tech called up the perfect play, a QB draw up the gut. Campbell had first down and then broke loose from a tackle, before turning on the jets for a 61 yard touchdown run.
Dakota who had played great these first 18 minutes, didn't let the touchdown waver their momentum. The Cougars nearly took 5 1/2 minutes off the clock. Once Dakota got into the red zone, SR QB Tyler Crowell found SR WR Brendan Mangan on the 5th or 6th out route of the drive. The 6 yard touchdown strike, happened once Mangan ran past the goal line and cut out to his right and the ball was there, all Mangan had to do was catch the ball - which he did. With 26 seconds left in the half, Dakota was up 17-7. (Watch the touchdown)
Cass Tech had pretty good field position but like for the most part CT struggled thanks to a screen pass, Weber had to dive for and then Campbell avoided Dakota's sack leader - Tony Balabani and heaved a pass down the right sideline but Central Michigan commit, David Basirico of Dakota caught the ball for an interception and Dakota took a knee to head into halftime up 17-7. (Watch the interception)
Dakota could not of asked for a better way to start the 2nd, the Cougars were set to receive the ball and already held a 10 point cushion. However, Dakota lined up against a much motivated defensive front in the 2nd half and the Technicians DL quickly forced a 3 and out plus punt.
Cass began at their own 40 after a 27 yard punt with 9:21 in the 3rd quarter. Damon Webb an Ohio State commit ran through on a seam and had great positioning on the safety who was covering and hauled in the pass for a 49 yard gain and suddenly Cass Tech's swagger was back. Moments later, Mike Weber took the handoff from 16 yards out for a touchdown with 8:10 left in the 3rd quarter. An inside handoff on the 2 point conversion was stuffed and the Dakota's lead stayed at 17-13.
The Cougars were pinned at their own 20 thanks to a clear touchback from Gary Hosey and Dakota again would be forced to punt to Cass Tech. CT would begin their drive at their own 35 yard line. Cass Tech again drove and from 20 yards out it looked like Campbell would be sacked by Balabani but the MSU commit escaped the pressure to find an open SR WR Andre Cook for the touchdown. CT again went for 2 points and failed, keeping the lead at 19-17 with 4:20 left in the 3rd quarter.
After another touchback, the Technicians forced the Cougars to go 3 and out again. The punt was shanked and landed at the Dakota 47 yard line. Cass Tech again drove straight to the red zone, from 8 yards out - Jayru Campbell misread the read option but Campbell's playmaking instincts took over, he would reverse directions and scampered his way into the endzone. Campbell's run came on the right side, much to the delight of the CT faithful and general fans. (Watch the touchdown)
Dakota picked up their 1st, first downs in the 2nd half thanks to several pass interference penalties. On 4th down, Tyler Crowell had little time but still stepped into a great throw that a Dakota WR on the far sideline caught before rolling out of bounds. Moments later, Crowell again made a great throw but Ohio State commit, Damon Webb leaped over the back of a Cougar receiver and brought down the ball for an interception.
Cass had a scare when Mike Weber got stuck in a pile of Cougar defenders and limped off the field, and didn't return. Weber was in high spirits after the game.
Cass Tech was looking to kill time off of the clock, and keep their 9 point lead intact. However from 65 yards out, Jayru Campbell put the dagger on the Cougars. Campbell ran to his right, before realizing nothing was there and cut back to his left down the homefield sideline and behind 2 lineman who sealed blocks to set Campbell free down the line. The touchdown with 6:37 remaining made the score 32-17 and that's how this game would end as both teams had another possession.
Cass Tech will now move on to play Detroit Catholic Central at Troy Athens High School at 1pm on Saturday. Cass Tech has defeated the Shamrocks the past 2 seasons in the state final game. The MHSAA went from east to west brackets to north and south brackets, as most years - Cass Tech would be set to face Clarkston.