Macomb Dakota rallies to win MAC Red title in overtime

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Macomb Township — Linebacker Chase Fulco came up with a hit for the ages, making a bone-crunching tackle on Frankie D’Ascenzo just short of the goal line on fourth down in overtime to lift Macomb Dakota to a 35-28 victory over Sterling Heights Stevenson in the MAC Red Division showdown Friday night.

Kaiser Carleton scored on a 10-yard run on the first play in overtime to send Dakota (6-2, 4-1) on its way to a fourth consecutive division championship.

Still, Dakota’s defense had work to do.

Stevenson (6-2, 3-2) had the ball from the 10 to try and win or send it to a second overtime, but Dakota’s defense came up big.

On third-and-goal from the 4, Dakota senior defensive back Sonny Cooper stuck Andrew Detmers for no gain, then D’Ascenzo broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage on fourth down and looked to be headed for a score when Fulco came from his linebacker spot and slammed into him just short of the goal line. That started a wild celebration by Dakota’s players and home fans.

And, it was a huge defensive stand by Dakota, which gave up 320 yards on the ground (43 carries) during regulation, with Detmers piling up 149 yards (on 14 carries) and D’Ascenzo 73.

“We were on a mission since Monday to beat Stevenson so we could win our fourth straight MAC Red title,” Cooper said. “Chase Falco just made a great play, slamming into (D’Ascenzo). Greg Baur, our defensive coordinator, had us prepared. He was watching lots and lots of film and made sure we were ready.”

Cooper also scored on a 2-yard run with 1:30 left in the half to pull Dakota even at 14.

Carleton, a 5-foot-7, 165-pound junior, ran for 88 yards and three TDs, on runs of 7, 4 and 10 yards. And, no run was bigger than the one to start OT, especially since Dakota had just missed a 26-yard field goal in the final seconds of regulation.

“We held our composure and got the job done,” Carleton said. “My offensive line did all the dirty work and I just got to the outside and scored.”

Junior Brett Droski, making just his second start at quarterback, did everything he could to rally Dakota to a win in regulation. He finished 6-of-10 for 132 yards.

Trailing 28-21, Droski, under heavy pressure, found Jaylen Hall for 35 yards on a second-and-21 from its 9. Dakota went on to score on a 1-yard run by Brendyn Pittman to pull even at 28 with 2:11 left.

Then, after holding Stevenson to a three-and-out, Dakota had the ball at its 40 and Tavin Allison broke loose for a 15-yard run. Droski then found Hall down the left sideline for a 26-yard pass to the 9 with nine seconds left. That set up a 26-yard field-goal attempt which bounced harmlessly off the right upright to send the game into overtime.

Stevenson was looking for its first MAC Red title since 2009 and had limited its opponents to just 16 points the previous four games.

D’Ascenzo was trying hard to get that championship. Early in the fourth, D’Ascenzo eluded a sack to find Braye Sonnenberg for a 13-yard pass to set up his own 1-yard TD run to pull Stevenson even at 21 with 9:39 left. It put an end to a 81-yard, 16-play drive.