A pair of interceptions turned a long, hot game into an even longer one to start the 2013 prep football season.
Tied at 20 in the first overtime, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley linebacker Jimmy Wazney snagged a pass from Dearborn quarterback Ali Naji. Then the Pioneers’ Houssain Sareini returned the favor by picking off Chippewa Valley QB Brendan Rohlfs’ pass in the end zone to force a second overtime during the Thursday afternoon game at the Detroit Sports Commission’s Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State.
Enter overtime No. 2.
The Big Reds got first crack on alternate possession and, thanks to runs of 8 and 2 yards by Doug Roberts, scored a touchdown to take the lead, 27-20. On the Pioneers’ next play, Alex Marko stepped in front of the receiver to end the game with a second consecutive interception, giving Chippewa Valley the opening victory of the season.
“I had the deep area; I couldn’t let anything get behind me,” Marko said. “I noticed most of the game they weren’t throwing my way, but I saw the quarterback staring him down the whole time, so as soon as the receiver made his break, I made mine and that’s how I got to the ball.
“A first win was our goal. It was closer (score) than we wanted it to be, but we felt we came in well prepared to do what we had to.”
Dearborn scored two touchdowns in regulation on pass plays of 15 yards (to Devin Collier) in the third quarter and a 71-yard bomb from Naji to Mohamad Makki in the fourth to tie the game 20-20, but Chippewa Valley coach Scott Merchant could somewhat overlook those plays.
“We talk to our defense all the time that I don’t care how many yards we give up, it’s just a matter of not giving up points,” Merchant said. “I think besides the one big play they hit there in the fourth quarter, the defense did a really good job of limiting big plays.
“Then they really rose to the occasion at the end of the game like that in OT, everyone’s gassed, tired. To me that shows a lot about their courage and their conditioning and their mental toughness. That’s what it’s about, making some key plays at key times in the game.”
Overall Dearborn committed five turnovers to the Big Reds’ six — including two fumbles by Roberts, who finished with 123 yards on the ground and an additional touchdown in the second quarter.
“I fumbled the ball twice, so I had to get it back, keep my mind in the game,” Roberts said. “If you’re down, everybody’s got to fight to come back. We all worked as a team.”
Late in the third quarter, Chippewa Valley pulled off a halfback pass from Brendan Murphy to Sean Bunting for a 39-yard touchdown, which after a PAT kick by Dane Haggerty tied the game at 13.
“We felt it was a good time for it,” Merchant said of the trickery. “Murphy was a backup quarterback on our JV. It looked good in practice and we felt they’re an aggressive team, and since we had run that handoff before — even though not to him — he made a beautiful throw and Sean Bunting made a great adjustment to catch it. That was big for us.”