Fordson keeps playoff hopes alive with win

Al Willman
Special to The Detroit News

Dearborn — Friday night was homecoming for Dearborn Fordson, but the stakes were even higher than that following its 30-14 win over Dearborn Heights Robichaud.

“We were playing for our football lives,” said Fordson quarterback Hamze Elzayat. “We knew we had to come out and play for our playoff hopes.”

Elzayat finished 11-of-18 for 147 yards, a touchdown and an interception for Fordson (4-3, 3-2 Western Wayne Blue).

After winning its last two games by a combined score of 93-26, Fordson seems to be finding a rhythm as it seeks a playoff spot with two games left.

“Absolutely it’s a big win,” said Fordson coach Fouad Zaban. “Each game is a playoff game for us. That’s the bottom line.”

Amir Saad made a 39- and two 25-yard field goals for Fordson.

“You know, honestly you’ve got to give this kid a lot of credit,” Zaban said of Saad, who replaced Haidar Zaidan after he moved to Tennessee. “This kid had never kicked a football prior to the first week of the season. Honestly, he’s the MVP tonight.”

Jairus Grissom was 18-of-27 for 235 yards and a touchdown for Robichaud (5-2, 3-2). He also rushed for 117 yards and a score on 11 carries.

Robichaud opened the scoring three minutes into the first quarter on a 14-yard touchdown run from Grissom. It failed to capitalize on a pair of two-point conversion attempts – a flag for an ineligible receiver downfield wiped out the first.

Fordson answered on its first drive, marching 63 yards in nine plays. Kassem Beydoun scored from eight yards out. The extra point from Saad made it 7-6 Fordson with 4:44 to go in the first.

After both teams turned the ball over on their ensuing drives, Saad made a 39-yard field goal late in the first, giving Fordson a 10-6 lead.

Robichaud moved the ball well on its final drive of the first half as Grissom completed six consecutive passes for 26 yards. But the drive stalled at the Fordson 28-yard line when Robichaud turned the ball over on downs.

Fordson’s Hassan Hachem returned the second half kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown.

After Robichaud’s first drive of the half stalled, it held Fordson to a 25-yard field goal from Saad after having a first-and-goal at the Robichaud 7-yard line.

Fordson took advantage of a Robichaud fumble deep in Fordson territory. It marched 59 yards in eight plays before Saad made his third field goal, another 25-yard attempt.

Elzayat found Khaled Elhaj for a 27-yard score with 9:27 left in the fourth to put the game out of reach.

“I thought they trusted me more,” Elzayat said of his receivers. “We came out composed and we stayed in the game. We had turnovers, but we put those aside. We kept fighting.”

Robichaud attempted a comeback late in the fourth as Grissom found Traivon Clayton for an 87-yard pass and catch for a touchdown. Grissom converted the two-point conversion on the quarterback keeper, making it a 30-14 game.

Robichaud coach Al Demps had one reason for his team’s struggles.

“What I can attribute this to is that before we even left the school, the demeanor and the look in my guys looked like they weren’t ready to play ball,” he said. “This team (Fordson) has a great tradition and they’ve got a lot of pride about themselves. They came out and they popped us.”

Fordson travels to Dearborn next week, while Robichaud hosts Livonia Clarenceville.

“Well, we better build off this and be ready to play,” Zaban said. “It’s Dearborn. Dearborn-Fordson is a good rivalry and I bet they’re going to be up to play us. We’ve got to make sure our guys are ready to play as well.”

Al Willman is a freelance writer.