Macomb — Dakota senior Mustafa Abdur-Rahman had two touchdown catches, but he was most proud of his interception which put an end to Warren De La Salle’s upset hopes in a Division 1 first-round state playoff game Friday night.
Tyler Crowell completed 19 of 32 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns to lead Dakota (10-0) to a 19-14 victory over De La Salle before a standing-room-only crowd of 6,000.
Dakota advances to play Chippewa Valley at 7 p.m. Friday. Dakota beat Chippewa Valley earlier this season, 52-7.
Crowell found Abdur-Rahman for 17- and 8-yard touchdowns in the first half for a 13-7 lead. Crowell also found Angelo DiMaggio for a 43-yard TD to give Dakota a 19-14 lead on the final play of the third quarter.
Still, it took Abdur-Rahman’s interception of Giovanni Rescigno’s pass on fourth-and-10 from the Dakota 38-yard line midway through the final quarter to end the upset bid.
So, what was Abdur-Rahman’s best play of the night?
“I’m a true defensive player, so the interception. I just loved it,” Abdur-Rahman said. “I sat down on the hook (pattern). I knew he was running it. We went over it every day in practice. I just made a play, his (Patrick Adams) hands were up and I just took it from him.
“We knew adversity would hit at one time tonight and we just had to just keep our composure and fight through it. We knew they were a great team. This was our test and we passed it.”
And Abdur-Rahman enjoyed the TDs.
“I’ve seen (No.) 20 on film where he got beat on a few plays earlier in the season, and Coach just called my number and trusted me 1-on-1 with him,” Abdur-Rahman said. “I just went up and made a play.”
After Abdur-Rahman’s interception, Dakota kept the ball for the final six minutes … after it had just 11 yards rushing on 15 carries until that time. On that final drive, however, Dakota picked up 65 yards on the ground, the first 16 by Crowell and then 28 yards on three carries by physical 5-foot-9, 210-pound Niko Savich.
“We were terrible in the running game at the beginning,” Dakota coach Mike Giannone said. “We went to the Rhino Tough Package (at the end). We have some kids in there that just said we’ve got to run the clock and just close it out, just give him (Savich) the ball and he ran people over.”
Dakota limited De La Salle (6-4) to 213 total yards, just 82 during the second half.
De La Salle (6-4) scored its first touchdown on a 15-play, 80-yard drive which lasted nearly nine minutes. Rescigno ran for 49 yards on six carries, scoring on a 1-yard run with 39 seconds left in the first quarter to pull even at 7-7.
Rescigno, who rushed for 130 yards on 20 carries, scored on another 1-yard run to give De La Salle a 14-13 lead with 8:26 left in the third.
Rescigno could never get going with the passing game, however, completing just 7 of 21 passes for 59 yards. He also threw an interception on the final play of the first half when Robert Campbell picked off a pass in the end zone.