Orchard Lake — Caden Prieskorn’s pass was intercepted by Macomb Dakota’s Qur’an Rozier in the end zone and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s comeback bid fell short, 31-24, in the season opener.
Dakota’s offense dominated the game. It only punted once, and its 60-yard drive in the fourth quarter that resulted in a field goal sucked away most of the clock, leaving St. Mary’s with just two minutes to tie it. St. Mary’s drove all the way to Dakota’s 12-yard line but couldn’t score.
“That’s a hell of a team, especially offensively,” Dakota coach Greg Baur said about St. Mary’s. “Maybe some people will start to feel like we are, too.”
The Dakota offense was piloted by junior quarterback Mark Tocco. The first-year starter had a big game, finding an array of receivers when needed and picking up big chunks of yardage on the ground.
Tocco finished with 112 rushing yards and one touchdown and was 9-for-12 passing for 117 yards and three touchdowns.
“We were pounding the ball down their throats,” Tocco said.
Dakota running backs Dawson Sloan and Dustin Solomon probed the inside of the St. Mary’s defense to great effect. Sloan finished with 11 rushes for 37 yards and Solomon had four carries for 56, including a looping 41-yard run that set up a 36-yard touchdown strike from Tocco to senior receiver Tyler Mahfet.
Dakota’s offense wasn’t explosive, but it picked up first downs regularly.
St. Mary’s only has two defensive starters back from last year’s Division 3 state championship team — seniors Ky’ren Cunningham and Nathan Kolwich — and they had their hands full.
The first half ended tied at 21 and was dominated by both offenses.
Cunningham found the end zone on runs of 51 and 56 yards and a 28-yard catch. His ridiculous first half stat line: four rushes for 136 yards, one reception for 28 yards and three total touchdowns. He cooled off in the second half but still finished with 11 carries for 218 yards and three scores, averaging 19.8 yards per carry.
Tocco also scored three times in the first half on a 31-yard rush and throws of five and 17 yards. Dakota didn’t have many big plays, but it didn’t need them.
Tocco methodically marched his team downfield.
“I love winning. I give all credit to my offensive line,” Tocco said.
St. Mary’s standout running back RaShawn Allen had a quiet game, rushing for 94 yards on 17 carries. The team also committed six penalties, including two on the final drive.
Last year, St. Mary’s and Dakota played one of the most entertaining games of the opening weekend.
Dakota won, 35-28, on the strength of three touchdown passes from Brett Droski to Jaylen Hall, but they’re both graduated, with Hall now catching passes at Western Michigan.
Birmingham Groves 42, Novi 21: Chaise Ford had 10 carries for 121 yards and three touchdowns and Ralph Donaldson added 77 yards and a touchdown on four rushes for Groves. Traveon Maddox caught nine passes for 55 yards and a touchdown for Novi.
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood 35, Redford Union 0: Trevor McConnell was 10-for-17 for 153 yards and two passing touchdowns, and Marquis Stokes caught four passes for 85 yards and a score for Cranbrook-Kingswood. Stokes also had an interception on defense and Andrew Mertz added 12 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Clinton Township Clintondale 22, Dearborn Heights Crestwood 19: Deonte Higgins had 25 carries for 103 yards and one touchdown, Gleo Wade had 86 yards rushing on nine attempts and nine tackles, and Carde Johnson had seven carries for 48 yards and a touchdown for Clintondale.
Dearborn Edsel Ford 41, Sterling Heights 20: Will Morano ran the ball 13 times for 213 yards and three touchdowns and Anthony Morando had 27-yard and 30-yard fumble recoveries returned for touchdowns for Edsel Ford.
Detroit Cody 22, Grosse Pointe South 20: Davion Hightower had two interceptions, a fumble recovery and five tackles, Gerard Sims and Terrance Noble combined for 13 tackles and two sacks, Jermaine Plack had a 67-yard touchdown reception and Leviticus Fielder had eight carries for 115 yards, including a 57-yard rushing touchdown, for Cody.
Detroit Mumford 36, Harper Woods Chandler Park 32: Cerell Lewis carried the ball 15 times for 115 yards and a touchdown, Devon Lucas had a 40-yard touchdown run, Bryant Evans had 10 tackles, including four for loss and three sacks, and Laviean Fields had an interception return for a touchdown for Mumford.
Detroit Renaissance 49, Detroit Osborn 8: Deandre Carter-Jones had three touchdowns, including an 80-yard kick return, and finished with 187 all-purpose yards for Renaissance. Kobe Kirkpatrick added a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown and Kenneth Smith reached the end zone on 37-yard fumble return.
New Baltimore Anchor Bay 48, Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse 7: Troy Bondar was 7-for-10 passing with 178 yards and three total touchdowns and Michael Harper had two touchdown passes and scored on an interception return for Anchor Bay.
Rochester Adams 38, Rochester 6: Chase Kareta had three rushing touchdowns and Cole Patritto and Steven Roncelli each added a rushing score for Adams.
Rochester Hills Stoney Creek 19, Utica Ford 12: Frank Potenza, Adam Hilton and Jericho Redmond-Barr each scored a rushing touchdown as Stoney Creek combined for 177 total rushing yards as a team. Noah Heide was 15-for-26 passing for 184 yards and a touchdown, Jalen Thomas caught six passes for 113 yards and touchdown, Cody Large had 65 rushing yards on 14 carries for Ford and Alex Steinwascher was 2-for-2 on field goals with a long of 39 yards for Ford.
Utica 28, Port Huron 13: Leonard Casem had 13 carries for 114 yards and one touchdown, Kavon Higdon had one rushing touchdown, one receiving touchdown and eight tackles, and Darin Pogasic threw for a touchdown, rushed for another and finished with 104 passing yards for Utica.
Eric Coughlin is a freelance writer; News staff contributed