Utica — Max Wittwer led Utica Eisenhower to a pair of touchdowns in a stretch of just over two minutes in the second quarter and the defending Macomb Area Conference Red champions went on to earn a 42-16 victory over Macomb Dakota Friday night.
Wittwer, a senior dual-threat quarterback, completed 8 of 10 passes for 189 yards and four touchdowns, including tosses of 35, 21 and 26 yards to Jack Morris and a 55-yarder to Caleb Oyster (10 carries, 119 yards).
Eisenhower’s defense played a huge role in the outcome as well, coming up with a big goal line stand to limit Dakota to a 22-yard field goal from Brady Zarschler to stay close, 10-7, before Wittwer took over.
Wittwer — who also rushed for 131 yards on six carries — connected on three straight passes for 40 yards to set up Oyster’s 16-yard touchdown run to give No. 7 Eisenhower (2-0, 1-0) a 14-10 lead with 5:49 left in the half.
Then, Ian Kennelly intercepted Mark Tocco’s underthrown pass at the Eisenhower 30 and returned it 49 yards to Dakota’s 21 to set up Wittwer’s 21-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Morris over the middle for a 21-10 cushion with 3:13 remaining.
"Our coaches know how to make the right call and see where the holes in the defenses are," said Wittwer, who has offers from Western Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky. "We love executing it, but they should get all the credit."
Dakota — ranked No. 15 in The News' Super 20 poll — had the advantage in time of possession, plays (32 to 17) and total yards (223-189) in the first half, but its failure to punch the ball into the end zone after its first-and-goal at the 3 cost the team on its 16-play drive, as did the interception.
Wittwer was never better than the first series of the third quarter. Eisenhower received the second half kick and Wittwer exploded up the middle for a 27-yard run on the first play, then found Oyster, who got behind the secondary, for a 55-yard touchdown to open up a 28-10 lead.
Dakota (1-1, 0-1) tried to make things interesting when Tocco hit Brandon Michalak on stride with a 51-yard touchdown pass to pull within 28-16, but Eisenhower again showed its ability to strike quickly with Wittwer running for 47 yards on first down, followed by Oyster’s 38-yard touchdown run for a 35-16 advantage with 7:11 left.
Eisenhower needed just two plays to reach the end zone of drives of 82 and 80 yards. And, it needed just four plays to go 86 yards midway through the fourth with Wittwer running for 45 yards, Oyster for 20 more, followed by Wittwer’s third touchdown pass of the game to Morris of 26 yards to open up a 42-16 lead with 7:11 left.
"He kept throwing the ball in the perfect spots for me to make plays," Morris said of Wittwer. "In our scheme everyone thinks we're going to run and we just throw it right over top and in our offense there's a lot of big plays that can happen in different spots."
Dakota had a 16-play drive in the first half and a 18-play drive in the second, accounting for just three points.
Tocco, aside from two interceptions, had a strong effort for the second straight game. He completed 14 of 21 for 220 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 72 yards on 24 carries after throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for one in season-opening 31-24 win over three-time Division 3 state champion Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
Dakota came up empty after an 18-play drive with just over eight minutes left when Henry Janeway had a pair of sacks, the final one coming on a fourth-and-goal from the 6.
"We're just a very balanced offensive team, but we have to clean up some things defensively, but that was a really good offensive team we played," Eisenhower coach Chris Smith said. "They moved the ball at will, but bend but don't break in the end there is the key.
"We had trouble with Tocco. He's a tough quarterback, tough as I've seen in this league playing at that position in a long time so I was proud of the way our guys played on defense."
Detroit Central 52, Detroit Southeastern 0: Senior quarterback El Julian Jordan was 25-for-30 throwing for 450 yards with four touchdowns, Germaine Williams, Andrew Holston and Jerrod Vines each had a touchdown reception, and Daniel Briggs had a 60-yard touchdown catch for Central (2-0). Vines also had an interception on defense as Central forced five turnovers. Southeastern is 1-1.
Detroit Voyageur 24, Harper Woods 20: Nassin Green had 19 carries for 130 yards, Julius Ogborn had 12 carries for 84 yards and two total touchdowns, and Daniel Knight had seven sacks, eight tackles and one forced fumble on defense for Voyageur (2-0, 1-0 Michigan Metro). Harper Woods is 0-2, 0-1.
Flat Rock 22, Riverview 14: Spencer Cainen connected with Alan Harbin on a 58-yard touchdown for Flat Rock (2-0, 1-0 Huron). Cameron Rogers rushed for 54 yards and had a touchdown for Riverview (1-1, 0-1).
Macomb Lutheran North 45, Madison Heights Bishop Foley 7: Tyler Davey was 18-for-27 throwing for 241 yards and two touchdowns, Ethan Hamilton had two receptions for 43 yards, and Joel Vandermeer had four receptions for 41 yards for Lutheran North (2-0).
Mishawaka (Ind.) Penn 38, Birmingham Brother Rice 0: Paul Moala had a 96-yard kick return for a touchdown and Brock Boynton had a 49-yard punt return for a score for Penn (2-1). Mariano Valenti went 16-for-21 passing for 122 yards for Brother Rice (1-1).
Redford Thurston 28, Dearborn 20: Jack Mannarino was 24-for-35 passing for 230 yards and one touchdown, Youseph Saad had 100 yards rushing, 80 yards passing and 100 yards receiving with two total touchdowns, and Mahdi Abdallah had 12 tackles and two sacks on defense for Dearborn (0-2). Redford Thurston is 1-1.
News staff contributed