At the start of the season, Macomb Dakota first-year coach Greg Baur thought his team had the potential to have the school’s best offense ever.
However, it was Utica Eisenhower’s offense that was unstoppable Friday night as the host Eagles soared to the district title with a 42-7 victory.
When the teams played on Sept. 2, the Cougars were without injured running back Kaiser Carleton and receiver Evan Sivec. The Eagles prevailed, 26-13.
This time, both were in the lineup and the Cougars (7-4) still struggled.
Jack Provencher scored three touchdowns in first half as the Eagles dominated.
“This feels absolutely amazing,” said Provencher. “Nothing better than to win a heated rivalry game. Coach (Chris) Layson, our offensive coordinator, and John DiGiorgio managed to find open holes in their defense and saw things we could exploit. We managed to take advantage of it.”
Provencher rushed for 142 yards on 13 carries while quarterback Max Wittwer ran for 108 yards on 15 carries and passed for another 143.
“Max is dedicated to nothing but the game, and he’s always hyped and energetic and everyone feeds off that,” said Provencher.
Taking advantage of a short field, the Cougars struck first on a one-yard TD run by quarterback Brett Droski with 6:31 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.
On Dakota’s next possession, Carleton ripped off a 36-yard run, and when a 15-yard penalty was tacked on the Cougars were in business at the Eisenhower 36. But the drive stalled, and that seemed to spark Ike.
Provencher ripped off a 58-yard run, then finished the drive with a three-yard burst to tie the game at 7-7.
Carleton fumbled to open the second quarter with Ike’s Jack Cervi recovering at the Cougars’ 20. Wittwer turned it into a 14-yard TD run with 10:33 left in the half to make it 14-7.
Wittwer misfired on his first four passes, but his fifth was a strike. He hit Provencher in stride for a 65-yard score with 9:13 left in the half to give the Eagles a 21-7 lead.
“He missed his first four because they did an outstanding job on their coverages,” said Ike coach Chris Smith. “It was the way they played us. Our offense is built around what are they doing to us and what can we do back to them? Our games with Dakota are always like that.”
Droski was intercepted at the Ike 2-yard line by Ryan Chargo to end a potential Cougars threat. Ike made three interceptions on the night.
“We just played with a lot of effort tonight,” said Ike defensive coordinator Dave Brzezinski. “They had a great practice week. They were focused. They wanted it bad.”
Wittwer broke off runs of 28 and 30 yards and finished the drive with a 13-yard TD run to give the winners a 28-7 lead.
Droski was intercepted by Chargo again with 3:46 left, giving the Eagles another scoring chance.
They didn’t disappoint the standing room only crowd as Wittwer hit Provencher with a 14-yard strike to extend the lead to 35-7 at halftime.
Provencher added his fourth TD of the game on a 36-yard burst on fourth down to give Ike a 42-7 lead and something unheard of against Dakota: A running clock.
The Eagles (11-0) will host Southfield A&T next week in the regionals.