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Posted: 09/08/10

Senior Zak Bellas, 4, and senior Justin Medley, 23, blocking the pass from the receiver for what could have been the tying touchdown with less than a minute to go in the game, Sept. 2 against Dakota. Below top, senior running back Ryan Burkard works his way between two defenders to score a touchdown, Sept. 2 against Dakota. Below bottom, senior Nathan Fraeyman securing the ball after making an interception in the Dakota end zone.

(Observer photos by Mike Nicley)

Bulldogs earn MAC
Red win over Dakota

Bounce back after non-
league loss to Troy High

Observer Sports Writer
      Now that's how you put a loss behind you.
       Last week, the Romeo High varsity football team did not play well in a 31-7 non-league loss to Troy High, but bounced back with one of the bigger early season upsets this week with a 17-10, MAC Red division win over Division 1 No. 3 ranked Macomb Dakota Thursday at Dakota.
       With the win, the Bulldogs set up an early season showdown this week with longtime rival Utica Eisenhower in the home opener at Romeo's Barnabo Field.
       "We played at a much faster pace than last week,'' Romeo linebacker Joe Bacci said. "We were not happy with our effort at Troy and we wanted to show we were better than that. I don't think we'll have much trouble getting up for Ike this week though, we really don't like each other very much.''
       Dakota, fresh off of last week's victory over perennial state power Muskegon, started well enough converting an interception into a Mark Morris' 17-yard touchdown pass to Bryan Basilico.
       The Cougars added a 39-yard field goal by Kris Selita for a 10-0 lead in the second quarter and appeared to be cruising, but that was it for the number one ranked team in Macomb County as the Bulldogs defense shut them down the rest of the way.
       Meanwhile, the Romeo offense, which struggled most of the night against Troy, began to find its rhythm driving 92 yards and scoring as time expired in the first half on a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Blake Laurain (14 of 23 attempts for 213 yards) to Justin Medley.
       Medley, (eight catches for 88 yards) also had a 54-yard catch and run during the Bulldogs' scoring drive.
       Romeo 1-1 overall (1-0 MAC Red) tied the game at 10-10 with just under five minutes left in the third quarter when kicker Ashley Flinn connected on a 23-yard field goal that was set up by a beautiful 79-yard catch and run by Brian Roth.
       Roth caught the ball on a short out and made three Dakota defenders miss him within five yards and then tore down the side lines before being knocked out of bounds deep into Cougar territory.
       Senior running back Ryan Burkard (124 yards on 20 carries) put the Bulldogs ahead for good with an 11-yard touchdown run with 7:21 remaining in the game.
       "We had a lot of guys step up this week,'' Romeo center Adam Bennett said of the win over Dakota. "Now we have to keep the same enthusiasm this week for Ike and play at the same tempo Friday night.''
       Romeo was led defensively by Nathan Fraeyman who had six tackles and one interception and linebacker Dan Bowers who had nine tackles. Bacci and defensive back Zak Bellas had eight tackles each.
       Flinn (yes, she's a she), was subbing for kicker Evan Simpson who had soccer commitments, had the one field goal and two extra points to account for five of the Bulldogs' 17 points scored.
       Flinn, the sister of former all-state kicker Robbie Flinn, is a terrific athlete having earned all-state recognition in volleyball and basketball and is headed to Central Michigan on a soccer scholarship.
       Dakota, which drops to 1-1 overall and 1-1 MAC Red, had 240 yards rushing as a team, led by Brandon Hughes with 90 yards on 14 attempts.
       Morris was 12-of-20 for 135 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

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