By Matthew Bartow / WLD
Head Coach Phil Jacobs knew Dexter’s final two weeks of the regular season wouldn’t be easy.
Jacobs dubbed the stretch, which saw it face Division 1 No. 3 Saline last week and Division 4 No. 1 Chelsea Friday, ‘Murderers’ Row’, a reference to the New York Yankees’ dynasty in the late 1920s.
While Dexter nearly upset Saline, Friday was a horse of a different color for the Dreadnaughts. Chelsea looked every bit of No. 1, handing Dexter its 26th straight loss in the rivalry, 41-20.
Adding several degrees of difficulty, Dexter 3-star running back prospect Cole Cabana missed Friday’s game due to injury, and the Dreads are still without tight end Brennan Parachek, a Michigan State commit.
“We had a hard time getting anything going, especially in the run game,” Jacobs said. “I got to give Chelsea a lot of credit. They mixed their blitzes, and did a really good job of not sitting and bringing pressure all night.”
Dexter’s offense, which came in averaging 43.5 points per game, was stymied in the first half. The Dreads only drove the ball inside the Bulldog 40-yard line once, and the drive resulted in a turnover on downs after a sack and an incompletion on fourth down.
Dexter’s defense had its fair share of problems against Chelsea’s running back duo of seniors Cole Munson and Trenton Hill, whom Jacobs called a ‘two-headed monster.’ They combined for four of Chelsea’s six touchdowns, with Hill scoring three.
Chelsea’s offensive line manhandled Dexter’s smaller defensive line all night, which did not escape Jacobs’ attention. Addressing the team postgame, Jacobs said Dexter ‘lost the game in the weight room.’
“When you’ve got two guys back there like they do, you’ve got to be very sound in your assignments. They’ve got a big offensive line that opened up holes for them. We’ll watch film to see where we had some breakdowns and get better in those areas,” Jacobs said.
Despite trailing 20-0, the Dreads had an opportunity to get back into the game with its offense having the ball near midfield in the final two minutes of the first half and possession to start the second half.
That opportunity ended when Chelsea senior Logan Kilgore intercepted Dexter quarterback Cal Bavineau. Making matters worse for the Dreads, Chelsea’s offense added a touchdown with 23 seconds remaining in the half on a 35-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Lucas Dunn to Lucas Hanifan.
Chelsea led 27-0 at halftime.
A 14 play, 69-yard drive by Dexter’s offense to start the third quarter ended in a turnover on downs, but it wasn’t without dividends, pinning Chelsea inside its own 10-yard line. That’s when Dexter linebacker Andrew Gersh recovered a fumble, setting the Dreads up goal-to-go.
Bavineau took advantage, scrambling around left end and scoring from nine yards out on the next play. Devon Durliat’s extra point cut Chelsea’s lead to 27-7 with 7:46 remaining in the third quarter.
Dexter pinned Chelsea at its 7-yard line after a great tackle by junior Cole Darby on the kickoff. The Dreadnaught defense squandered a great chance to give the ball back to its offense, allowing a back-breaking 15 play, 93-yard drive that ate up more than half of the third quarter. Two plays after Dexter couldn’t stop Hill on fourth-and-1, Hill scored a 5-yard touchdown to put Chelsea up 34-7 with 13 seconds remaining in the quarter.
Dexter’s offense scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late. Bavineau accounted for both, one a 3-yard keeper and the second a 14-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Braeden Fuson.
Dexter finishes the regular season at 5-4.