November 14, 2012 - It was a battle of passing versus rushing, but in the end, Orion's defense was too much to overcome on Friday and the Dragons felled Macomb Dakota, 51-35.
The Dragons celebrate their win and all try to get a hand on the prize. Photo by G. Ouzounian (click for larger version)
The victory pits Orion against defending state champions, Detroit Cass Tech, in the state semifinals this weekend. The game is at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Troy Athens High School. The winner will play the following week at Ford Field for the state title.
Against Dakota, Lake Orion had another night of signature running, with nearly 400 yards rushing and another 95 passing.
The Cougars were no slouches. While their running game was held to a paltry 98 yards, their passing was on with a total 251 yards on 23 completed passes.
Orion took an early lead in the first quarter set up by an interception by senior Brandon Clements. Junior Chris Leigh followed with a touchdown and the Dragons offense shifted to high gear.
Orion continued the onslaught into the second quarter and built a 31-7 lead by halftime. Senior running back Jacob Miller scored three more touchdowns before intermission.
"We knew they were capable," said Coach Chris Bell. "We knew they could score a lot of points and we knew that we had to keep the hammer down. You saw it - they just kept coming. So we knew we had to keep going."
The offensive power of the Cougars showed in first downs, which they led Orion, 17 to 11 but Orion's running attack proved to be too much.
Jacob Miller led the attack with 217 yards rushing. Junior running back Dominic Giovinazzo had 75 yards, averaging 12 yards per carry. Leigh ran for 46 yards and touchdown.
Junior Corey Ester also had a touchdown on 27 yards rushing.
In the passing game, senior starting quarterback Derek DeLaura threw six passes (five completed) for 95 yards. Senior wide receiver Chaz Miller had two catches for two touchdowns and 54 yards. Senior Jeremy King had 41 receiving yards.
Bell gave particular credit to his team's speed and said the team has a lot of players that can run. But for him, it's not just being able to run - it's playing fast.
"Our guys play fast, hit the holes fast and that's how we play. We have a lot of weapons and you saw them all tonight," he said. "Jacob Miller is an unselfish player. If I give it to him five times or twenty times he's fine and he will work his rear end off. He's probably the most underrated back around - there is not another back that we've played that I would rather have. He's a tremendous player."
The victory improved Lake Orion's record to 11-1 and they will face 10-2 Cass Tech. Bell noted that Cass Tech has tremendous athletes and a great quarterback.
"It's going to be a huge challenge but one we're looking forward to," he said.