Dearborn wins third straight game, downs Robichaud 28-12
DEARBORN — Thanks to the team’s depth, Dearborn is a team that is getting hot at the right time as the season winds down.
That depth helped the Pioneers earn a 28-12 win over Robichaud on Friday night to earn their third straight win, and their fifth in six games.
“We wanted to utilize our depth on offense and wear Robichaud down by running off the edge, then gashing them up the middle. We knew the more we ran, the more everything else would open up, and a lot of deserving guys got touchdowns today,” senior running back Joe Berry said.
“We weren’t doing so well in the first half, but we built off the momentum in the first drive and never looked back.”
Robichaud jumped out to an early 6-0 lead with 5:06 left in the first quarter when junior wide receiver Traivon Clayton returned a punt 56-yards to give the Bulldogs (7-1) an early lead. The extra point was missed.
Dearborn stemmed the tide until halftime, and exploded in the second half scoring 14 unanswered points to take the lead and never looked back.
After a good return and a personal foul, the Pioneers (5-3) took over at Robichaud’s 12 yard line. Two plays later, sophomore Mike Phillips punched in a 1-yard touchdown run for a 7-6 lead.
Two possessions later, Phillips and the Dearborn offense would build off its lead with a 23-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Ismail Bazzi for a 14-6 lead with 1:23 left in the third quarter.
“He’s a gamer. He’s a guy that makes plays. He puts us in the right spots, too. For his age, being a sophomore, he’s a leader on this team. That throw he had to (Bazzi) was the type of throw he’s made in big league games all season,” Dearborn head coach John Powell said.
“It was a big throw.”
Robichaud wouldn’t go quietly, however, when the Bulldogs earned a big defensive play by Clayton who picked up a Dearborn fumble and returned it 82 yards to pull within a two-point conversion of tying the game, 14-12 with 8:49 left in the fourth quarter.
Dearborn’s defense did what it did all game and made a big defensive stop when it had to, and prevented a successful two point conversion.
“Our defensive line is our strength. Josh (Edwards), Yusuf (Khalil) and the rest of those guys are two year starters. We spent the entire second half keeping (Jarius Grissom) in the pocket. Finally after they abandoned the run, we were able to space out our guys and keep the pressure on with our defensive speed,” Powell said.
“We made some very opportunistic plays all game. Early, we were a bend but don’t break, but later on we really become dominant.”
The defense earned key interceptions in the second half as well that set up its offense. Senior Ahmed Hazime (two interceptions) picked off a pass on Robichaud’s 25 yard line and returned it to the three yard line.
The very next play, junior Ali Berry carried a jet sweep off the right side for a 3-yard touchdown run for a 21-12 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, junior linebacker Hassan Makled recovered a shallow kick that put the Dearborn offense back in prime scoring position on the Robichaud 22 yard line.
A few plays later, senior running back Joe Berry bounced an off-tackle run the left side of the line and dashed towards the near pylon for a 3-yard run for a 28-12 lead with 3:01 to play.
The win gives Dearborn that all-important fifth win of the season that helps teams across the state become playoff eligible.
Though Powell’s team had missed the playoffs last season, he believes when he made the decision to play more young players the team took off.
“We knew we’re a good team. We played really good teams like West Bloomfield, and St. Johns in non-conference play. Because we played those tough teams, we’re confident,” he said.
“After week two, we decided we cant play kids both ways anymore. It didn’t make sense. We had young kids that could play, and we wanted to get as many guys on the field that we could to build depth. We’ve become a second half team because of it because now we can grind and wear out teams.”
The only team that stands in Dearborn’s way of hearing their name called on Selection Sunday is an away game against Ann Arbor Skyline.
“We can’t take any team for granted, and we got to play hard. We guaranteed six wins (at the start of the season), and we’re going to get it next week,” Berry said.