Friday's prep football: Chippewa Valley holds off Dakota

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Clinton Township Chippewa Valley running back Ja'Von Kimpson, right, rushes past Macomb Dakota defensive back Matt Love for a touchdown in the fourth quarter on Friday.

Macomb — Marcel Lewis has long been known for his strong play at linebacker, but showed he can play some offense as well Friday night by leading Clinton Township Chippewa Valley to a 24-17 victory over Macomb Dakota before more than 6,000 fans in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division showdown between unbeaten teams.

Lewis, a Michigan State commit, had a 22-yard touchdown reception from his tight end position to open up a 10-0 first-quarter lead, then his 9-yard catch set up Andre Chenault’s 37-yard touchdown run for a 17-7 third-quarter cushion.

“We’re smart enough to know that when you have a kid like Marcel you have to find a way to sneak him in on offense," Chippewa Valley coach Scott Merchant said. "He made a great play there, had to adjust his route on something that happened and Tommy made a great throw into a horrible wind coming into his face and Marcel made a great catch.

“Marcel gives us a spark on both sides of the ball and Andre Chenault played great. Those two guys are the most physical players around.”

Lewis played outstanding defense as well, making a pair of tackles on Dakota quarterback Mark Tocco on the first series of the second half, which led to Tommy Schuster having a short field to work with on a five-play, 60-yard drive.

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Chippewa Valley (5-0, 3-0) extended the lead to 24-7 on Ja’Von Kimpson’s 4-yard run on fourth down with 11:08 left.

Dakota (4-1, 2-1) made things interesting when De’Javion Stepney scored on a 6-yard run with 7:05 left, then Jeremiah Baker recovered an onside kick to set up Brady Zarschler’s 47-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 24-17 with 5:20 remaining.

Dakota forced a three-and-out and had one more chance to pull even or win in the final minutes, starting its final drive from its own 36 and advancing to the Chippewa Valley 10 with 1:32 left.

On a fourth-and-3 from the 10, Dakota tried to draw Chippewa Valley offside and instead was called for motion. Then on fourth-and-8, Tocco’s pass fell incomplete to end the threat.

“We were kind of a bend but don’t break defense and we didn’t want to give up the deep ball over the top because that’s how they’ve gotten a lot of their easy scores," Merchant said. "Our job was to keep everything underneath and we did that. That’s a very good offense they have and I think our defense made a statement.”

Dakota had more total yards (371-202) and plays (65-32). Tocco completed 14-of-28 for 224 yards.

The schools — separated by a few miles — have developed a strong rivalry with Chippewa Valley sweeping the series last season, including a 45-20 district title win.

Chippewa Valley took advantage of a turnover — the ball rolled off a Dakota player on a punt — to take a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter on Niko Kepi’s 36-yard field goal.

Chippewa Valley increased the lead to 10-0 on Schuster’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Lewis with 41 seconds left in the opening quarter.

Dakota — ranked No. 12 in The News' Super 20 poll — got on the board with an impressive 80-yard, 16-play drive with Dustin Solomon scoring on a 4-yard run to cap off the 8-plus-minute drive, highlighted by Tocco’s three third-down completions to keep the drive alive to Ross Lewalski and Pat Merolla.

Dakota was dealt a severe blow on the final play of the half when Tocco found Solomon for a 24-yard pass to the Chippewa Valley 18. Solomon was tackled and injured his leg, and was carried off the field.

Chippewa Valley took the 17-7 lead on Chenault’s 37-yard touchdown run, then had a big defensive stand when Chenault got into the backfield for a 5-yard loss and CMU-bound cornerback David Ellis broke up a pass on fourth-and-14 to end the drive.

“It was fourth down and we needed to make a stop, came through in the clutch, I read my keys and I made the play,” Ellis said of the game-ending play. “This is a rivalry game so it felt great.”

Chippewa Valley put the victory away with a 62-yard scoring drive with help from Dakota.

Chippewa Valley started the drive from its own 38 and Schuster was sacked — sandwiched, actually — and it appeared he had fumbled, but he was ruled down.

Then on third-and-21 from its own 27, Schuster ran for 12 yards to the 39. But near the end of the play, Ellis put on a crunching block that Dakota’s coaches didn’t like, resulting in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty and a Chippewa Valley first down.

Chippewa Valley took advantage when Kimpson scored on a 4-yard run on fourth-and-2 for a 24-7 lead with 11:08 left.

Dakota scored its final touchdown with 7:05 left when Stepney scored from four yards out with 7:05 left to pull within 24-14 with Tocco setting up the score with a 10-yard pass to Brandon Michalak on a fourth-and-7 play.

Dakota made things interesting when it recovered an onside kick at midfield, leading to the long field goal.

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News staff contributed