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By: Seth Kinker, skinker@thesuntimesnews.com

The Dexter Dreadnaughts, 6-1 (5-1), got their sixth win of the season, that will send them to the postseason for the second year in a row, on Oct. 11 when they traveled to Pinckney and defeated the Pirates, 5-2 (4-2), on their Homecoming, 49-25. 

After receiving the kick-off, the Dreads struck quickly. Dread junior running back Evan Krolewski took a sweep to the right and got to the edge, running 84-yards on the Dreads second offensive play for the touchdown and early 7-0 lead. 

The Pirates answered right back and did it quickly like the Dreads. After two runs from senior running back Sal Patierno, senior quarterback Joe Bona found sophomore wide receiver Caleb Wardlow on a slant for the 49-yard catch and run for the score. A blocked extra point made it 7-6 in favor of the Dreads with 10:07 in the first quarter. 

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A fast-paced Dread offense made it 14-6 with 9:18 when junior quarterback Collin Parachek took the team 80-yards down the field in three plays. With the help of a Pirate face mask, the drive culminated in a 17-yard pass to senior wide receiver Rhett Jacobs, who caught it and ran it in. 

Parachek finished 16-30 for 260 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions while Jacobs had four catches for 38 yards and the touchdown.

On the next Pirate drive they turned it over right after they got into Dread territory, with Dread senior defensive back Jasper Howell falling on the ball. 

Both teams would punt before the Dreads struck again. This time, it was eight-play 79-yard drive that ended in Parachek running it in from 12-yards out to make it 21-6 with 1:18 left in the opening quarter. 

“Everyone takes up a section of the defense if that makes sense,” said Parachek. “Everyone (on defense) has to have a responsibility and they can’t cover everyone. It’s hard to take away everyone. When we’re clicking like we were tonight, it’s easy to score. We had some off possessions late first half and early second half we need to capitalize on and get better for next week, besides that I thought it was a nice win.” 

The Pirate defense would settle in after the first quarter, forcing a punt and getting an interception in the second.

As the Pirates took their second drive of the quarter deep out of their own territory, Dread senior defensive back Noah Mitchell picked off Bona at the Pirate 44-yard line. 

On the ensuing drive, the Pirates would answer when junior defensive back Jack Trachet picked off Parachek.

After the teams traded punts, the Pirates got the ball at their own 20-yard line with 4:23 left. They then drove the length of the field for the score, behind tough runs from Patierno and creative work by Bona in the pocket. 

Facing a third and goal from the 14-yard line, Bona found Patierno for the touchdown with 22 seconds left to make it 21-13. Bona finished 22-for-41 for 247 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. 

“I thought we settled down, settled in (after the first quarter),” said Pirate head coach Rod Beaton. “We started to get some good looks and felt good about things. We were trying to get that last one at the end (of the half), trying to bleed the clock, hoping to score with no time on the clock.” 

A Pirate penalty on the kickoff gave the Dreads the ball at the Pirate 45-yard line with 14 seconds left. 

After an incompletion and with seven seconds left in the half, Parachek rolled out of the pocket and heaved a ball deep towards the end zone. After hanging in the air for what seemed like an eternity, it fell into the waiting hands of senior wide receiver Antwan Ficklen for the touchdown with no time left, giving the Dreads a 28-13 halftime lead. 

Taking a knee and heading to the locker room was never even a thought for the Dreads. 

“That wasn’t an option,” said Jacobs. “We were going to take a shot. Our quarterback has the arm to get it there and we have receivers we know can go get the ball. It worked out in our favor. Just one of those plays, those crazy plays that went our way, of course, one of the best receivers in the state was making an acrobatic catch out there.” 

“We know our offense can score on any given play from anywhere,” said Parachek. “We knew we had 14 seconds, two shots.” 

“I was dropping back and Antwan’s route was an option route,” added Parachek on that hail mary. “It was supposed to be a fade or a dig. His read was to do a dig, but with seven seconds left I figured he would take it to the end zone. So, I hitched up. I was about to throw the fade to Antwan; I like him in one on one situations more than anyone else. And he runs a dig. That’s when I hitch up and couldn’t make the throw. Mark (Young) made a good block on his dude, I roll out left, and I saw (Antwan) took his dig to the corner of the end zone. I figured with no time left I just had to throw it up to him and he made an amazing catch.” 

At halftime, Beaton said it wasn’t necessarily about adjustments, just playing smarter football. 

The Pirates received the second-half kickoff and a solid return by senior Cam Gaden gave them good field position at the Dread 43-yard line as rain fell heavily starting in the third, affecting the pace of the game. 

Seven plays later, Bona would find Patierno again, this time from 25-yards out. A low snap on the extra point led to Dread senior defensive back Yusef Mohammed flying in to make the tackle to make it 28-19 in favor of the Dreads. 

The Pirates would force another turnover, picking off Parachek again on the Dreads next drive. The Dread defense responded by forcing a turnover on downs on the next Pirate possession. 

A four-minute, 63-yard drive capped off by a 2-yard run from Dread senior Jordan Watson gave the Dreads a 35-19 lead with 29 seconds left in the third quarter. 

The first drive of the fourth quarter for the Pirates resulted in a touchdown, an 86-yard drive that was capped off by a 2-yard run from Patierno. The extra point, however, was no good as Watson shot the gap and blocked the kick to make the score 35-25 with 10:41 in the fourth. 

“That one is on me,” said Beaton on the extra point. “We should’ve gone for two, we were a little confused on the headsets what we were going to do there and we should’ve gone for two. That makes it 35-27, a one-possession game at that point. It was like we lost steam. Give our kids credit, they kept fighting and battling but that one is on me.” 

A great Ficklen kick-off return was wiped out by a late hit but Ficklen would take the very next play, a sweep to the right, 48-yards to the house to put the Dreads up 42-25 with 10:16 left. 

The Dreads totaled 612 yards of offense, 349 rushing yards and 263 passing hards. Krolewski (215) and Watson (108) combined for 323 of those rushing yards while Ficklen (four catches, 162 yards, two touchdowns) led the receivers.

Consecutive turnovers happened again after that score. 

First, Watson picked off Bona and gave the Dreads the ball at midfield. Then, with the Dreads driving and at the Pirate 18-yard line, the Pirates knocked out the ball after a completed pass. Gaden fell on it and the pirates recovered at their own 2-yard line with 6:43 remaining.

Bona then led the Pirates all the way to the Dread four-yard line but the Dread defense held. A fourth and goal pass was complete but the Dread defense got out to the flats and tackled the Pirate receiver short of goal line.

On the very next play, Watson sealed it with his second touchdown of the night. This one was for 98-yards to put the Dreads up 49-25 which would be the final score. 

That win puts the Dreads in the playoffs for the second year in a row, building off of last year that saw them break a 42-game losing streak and make the playoffs for the first time in school history. 

The Dreads have already topped their program scoring record set last year, they did so last week in week six. With their sixth win in a row, that’s now the longest win streak the Dreads have had since they won eight in a row during the 1964-65 seasons.

This year, the Dreads were out to prove last year wasn’t a fluke. They’ve done that with tonight’s win but they aren’t satisfied yet as they travel to Lincoln net week. 

“Tonight’s a huge win,” said Parachek. “It secures the playoff spot but we were never satisfied with last year’s outcome. Obviously, it was great to make the playoffs after that long losing streak. But last year when we lost that first playoff game everyone was devastated. The goal this year is to do the same thing. We’re trying to be 7-1, 8-1 make the playoffs, hopefully go further. Win the district, regional, and just see what we can do.”

“We want to prove we’re for real this year,” said Jacobs. “We want to make people have to take note and recognize us. The disappointing thing is we left some points on the scoreboard (tonight) that good teams have to capitalize on. We were tested tonight. I thought we had an answer for everything.” 

For the Pirates, they’ve got two more chances to make the playoffs starting with Jackson next week. 

“I told them, ‘hey it’s okay for it to hurt right now,’ honestly it hurts. All it tells me is they care,” said Beaton. “The coaching staff will show up Sunday and get everything set, come out on Monday with energy and that’ll be me. I’m going to be the energy guy and make sure everyone knows we got another tough one. If you don’t want to feel like you felt tonight, let’s have a great week and let it all out. Honestly, tremendous compliments to Dexter and what they are doing. It’s impressive. They have athletes and answers. Boy, they’re tough, a good football team.”

The Dreads have already topped their program scoring record set last year, they did so last week in week six. With their sixth win in a row, that’s now the longest win streak the Dreads have had since they won eight in a row during the 1964-65 seasons.

Photos by Dawn Miller

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