Saline Pulls Away from Dexter in SEC Red Opener
In a rematch of last year's SEC Red game that decided the league title, it was Saline that came out on top this time as the Hornets pulled away from Dexter in the second half for a 41-25 win in the conference opener for both teams.
In just their third meeting between the teams since Dexter joined the Red in 2021, it appears that there is a new rivalry blooming between the schools.
Dexter snapped Saline’s eight-year run at the top of the Red last season with a 21-14 win, but it was the Hornets that got the upper hand Friday night to start conference play.
Both teams moved the ball up and down the field as they combined for over 800 yards in total offense, but it was Saline who was able to finish when they moved the ball into the red zone throughout the night.
Dexter took the opening kickoff and drove into Hornet territory, but the drive stalled, and the Dreads were forced to punt.
Saline took the ball and drove down the field and scored when CJ Carr hit Dylan Mesman with an 11-yard touchdown for a 7-0 lead.
Dexter answered with another impressive drive and capped it off with a nine-yard TD run by Cooper Arnedt on the last play of the first quarter. After a Saline penalty, Dexter decided to go for two, but the conversion failed and Saline led 7-6.
James Rush scored from 15-yards out to push the Saline lead to 14-6.
Both teams would drive into each other's territory, but interceptions ended three drives and the score remained 14-6 at the half.
The Hornets got a break on the opening drive of the second half, when a Carr pass went through a Dreadnaughts defender's hands and popped into the air. It was grabbed by Caid Fox and he sprinted 52 yards for a touchdown and a 21-6 lead early in the third.
Dexter would respond and Arnedt scored from 18 yards out for his second TD run of the night to cut the lead to 21-13, but Saline quickly answered, and Carr ran it in from four yards out to take a 28-13 lead after three quarters.
The Dreadnaughts moved within nine early in the fourth when Ronny Johnson scored from three yards out. The two-point conversion failed, and Saline led 28-19.
Saline would push its lead back to double digits when Carr ran it in from eight yards out for his second touchdown of the night for a 35-19 lead.
The Hornets defense forced a turnover on downs and the Hornets sealed the win when Rush scored his second TD of the night, this time from 24 yards out to make it 41-19.
Dexter would score on the final play of the game when Arnedt hit Jaiden Juback with a scoring pass to make the final 41-25.
Carr had a huge night with 314 yards and two TDs on 19-27 passing. He also rushed for two TDs for the Hornets.
Rush finished with 92 yards rushing and two scores to lead the Saline ground attack.
Fox had a monster night receiving with nine catches for 168 yards and a score. Jarell Marshall caught one pass for 63 yards, while Jaiden Leonard caught three for 37. Mesman caught three for
27 and a score and Cole Kreuzer one for 11.
Johnson had a huge night for the Dexter ground game with 209 yards rushing on 25 carries and one core. He also caught three passes for 26 yards.
Arnedt finished 22-37 passing for 164 yards and a TD and rushed for 16 yards and two scores.
Cole Novara caught seven passes for 54 yards, while Gabe Rychener caught six passes for 40 yards. Juback caught three for 28 and a score, and Nathan Gersh two for 14.
Saline improved to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the SEC Red and will return to action Friday night when they host Ann Arbor Pioneer.
Dexter fell to 0-2 overall and 0-1 in the Red, when they have another game Friday night when they host Bedford in another key SEC Red matchup.
Photos by Mike Williamson