Four games into the season, Macomb Area Conference Red Division favorite Macomb Dakota couldn’t afford another loss with two teams still undefeated.
Warren Mott was one of those teams and, with two offensive starters out, Dakota went out and used its next-man-up mentality to take a 13-point lead in the second half.
But Mott kept making plays, forced a couple of turnovers, benefited from a couple of penalties and pulled out a 27-20 victory.
Key sacks from James Warner and the final one from Liam Fogerty secured the victory, improving the Marauders to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the Red.
“That last sack was amazing,” said Mott’s Cortland Cross, who finished with 118 yards on 19 carries and the winning score. “The defense wouldn’t give up.”
Mott entered the game having allowed just 21 points, and the Marauders were without star defensive back/running back Jayvon Wilson, who was out for disciplinary reasons.
Dakota was still missing star running back Kaiser Carelton, who has a stint issue in his knee, and wide receiver Evan Sivec, who got hurt in the Utica Eisenhower loss.
“It was an undisclosed issue and he’ll be back next week,’’ Mott coach Tom Milanov said of Wilson. “It feels great. It was a heck of a battle in the MAC Red. We have a great team and we believe in ourselves.’’
The Cougars fell to 0-2 in the Red and 2-2 overall.
“I told them we blew it,” Dakota coach Greg Baur said. “It wasn’t anything they did. It was on us. We got down to the 1-yard line and scored and got a penalty, which took us out of that drive. We didn’t recover an on-sides kick. We faked a punt inside our one and got good field position. We had a holding penalty, and then we had some unreal penalty where the officials said our kids were taunting an official somehow, which is unbelievable.”
The Cougars struck first on a 20-yard pass from Brett Droski to 6-foot-4 Jaylen Hall with 4:26 left in the first quarter to make it 7-0.
Dakota’s speed was evident as Droski hit Ronye Walker with a 32-yard catch-and run, and Hall’s 19-yard run on a reverse set up the Cougars with a first down at the Mott 1 to start the second quarter.
Dawson Sloan plowed his way through to start the second, giving the visitors a 14-0 lead.
Mott found an offensive spark with reserve Onyeka Ojinaka in the backfield, who rushed for 118 yards.
He gained 40 yards on four carries, including a one-yard TD run with 8:58 left in the half to cut the deficit to 14-7.
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @farrellperry.