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Western beats Northville in shootout, WLW 48 Northville 34

By Brad Emons, 09/11/16, 9:30AM EDT


WLW improves to 3 - 0

Northville tried to make it a track meet, but the Mustangs got out of the starting blocks a little too late in their football showdown Friday night with speedy Walled Lake Western.

The Warriors, the state's top-ranked team in Division 2, ruled the first 22 minutes 57 seconds of the game to build a commanding 27-0 advantage and it was more than enough as they improved to 3-0.

"Big plays, good athletes, good coaching" Northville coach Matt Ladach said of Western. "They're a good football team. We knew coming into the game that we had to play our best to win. And we did not play our best. We made a lot of mistakes, but still it's a good team and you have to give them credit."

In the first quarter, Michigan State commit Cody White looked more than a caretaker at quarterback as he threw TD passes of 7 and 40 yards to Kameron Ford to make it 14-0.

A Ford 52-yard punt return then set up Western's third TD, an 11-yard run by Jalen Marshall with 10:49 left in the second quarter.

The Warriors then scored again as White, who was 10-of-13 in the first half, found Jack Dodge on a 9-yard swing pass with 5:11 to go. But Colton Jennings' extra point attempt was blocked, leaving the point differential at 27.

After just getting two first downs, the Mustangs (2-1) showed some life and came storming back to cut the deficit to 27-14 just before at halftime.

Senior quarterback Jack Burke directed a 10-play, 57-yard drive capped by his own 3-yard keeper with only 1:03 left and then picked off a White pass just 30 seconds later before hitting junior A.J. Abbott on a 48-yard TD bomb with only 2.9 seconds remaining. Jake Moody's extra point made it a two-score game.

"We knew they'd come back, he (Ladach) does a good job," Western coach Mike Zdebski said. "He's a fiery guy, so you knew he challenged them a little bit and they responded. And they are a good team. We blew a coverage. We thought he had safety help over the top, but obviously he didn't. And that put them right back in it."

White's 33-yard punt return set up a 2-yard TD run by Jalen Marshall with 7:40 left in the third quarter to make it 34-14.

Senior defensive back Jack Dodge then went to work with a pair of third quarter interceptions. His 26-yard return led to a 1-yard Jamon Benson TD run with 3:02 to go and Jennings' PAT made it 41-14.

Northville quarterback Jack Burke (7) makes the pass

Northville quarterback Jack Burke (7) makes the pass in front of Walled Lake Western defender Jonathon Moffett. (Photo: SCOTT CONFER)

Northville, however, answered with a TD on a first play of the final period, a 1-yard keeper by Burke to cap a 60-yard, seven-play drive. Moody's extra point was good, cutting the deficit to 41-21.

But Dodge's third INT of the game with 9:12 left set up a Benson 27-yard TD run just nine seconds later to put the Warriors up by four scores again, 48-21.

"I just saw a lot of open space having their receivers coming over and I just read their quarterback's eyes the whole time, saw where he was looking," Dodge said. "Got in a spot and picked it off right there."

The speedy Dodge, a standout track sprinter, led the state last year with nine interceptions en route to All-State honors.

"I think he's one of the best defensive backs in the state," Zdebski said. "Has an offer from Eastern Michigan University and should have more."

Northville, however, wasn't about to cave putting two more TDs on the board before the clock read 0:00.

Burke, who was 15-of-26 passing on the night for 248 yards, connected with Abbott on a 50-yard pass down to the Western 2 and the Northville QB scored on a keeper on fourth-and-goal to cut the Western advantage to 48-27 after Moody's PAT was blocked with 6:53 remaining.

Northville's Ryan Nelson (bottom) tries to grab the

Northville's Ryan Nelson (bottom) tries to grab the leg of Western quarterback Cody White. (Photo: SCOTT CONFER)

The Mustangs' JaQuan Crawford then recovered a Western fumble at their own 42 with 4:49 to go and Northville capitalized when back-up QB Jon Michalak connected hit Ben Schmidt on a 35-yard pass and Benair Covington followed with 3-yard TD run with only 1:47 remaining.

The Mustangs then tried their second consecutive onside kick, but Western was able to recover at its own 40 and eventually ran out the clock.

"I do give our kids credit for fighting back," Ladach said. "We were down big early and they did not give up, they kept on fighting. And I'm proud of them for being persistent."

White was 11-of-17 passing for 209 yards and three TDs, while also rushing for a team-best 65 yards on 12 carries.

"He's extremely athletic, he throws the ball well, just a good football player," Ladach said of the 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior, who will move back to wide receiver when starter Johnny Tracy returns.

"When he (Tracy) gets back he (White) will be even better at receiver," Zdebski said. "He did a good job for the most part with ball security except for one 'pick' before the half. But that was the fault of the receiver running the incorrect route. The receiver created that situation, which we should never been in."

Northville, meanwhile, opens KLAA Central Division play Friday, Sept. 16 at home against Salem.

"We wanted this game because they're big opponent," Ladach said. "You feel like if you beat a team and a program like Walled Lake Western, you earn some respect. Heading into our division (schedule) now, in reality, isn't that big of a game. Every game is a big game, but all of our goals are still in front of us. We still have the goal to win our (Central) division and still have our goal to win the (Kensington) conference  championship and still have the goal to make the state playoffs. All of our goals are still in front of us. Forget about this one in a hurry and focus on Salem."

Western also opens (KLAA North) division play next Friday at rival Walled Lake Central as the Vikings will try and slow down the lightning-fast Warriors.

"We have a lot of track kids," Zdebski said. "We've been regional champs in track three of the last five years. Our kids can run and they like to run track."