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WL Western avoids upset bid from South Lyon 31-30

By By TIM ARRICK @MIPrepZone, 10/29/16, 2:30PM EDT


WLW advances to district final for 6th straight year

One minute and seven seconds left on the clock. South Lyon (5-4) lined up for a two-point conversion to take a one point lead over Division 2 favorite Walled Lake Western (9-0). You couldn’t have written a better script if you had tried. Unfortunately, one of these teams would be watching the playoffs from the stands next week.

Lion receiver Chris Job was open at the goal line on a slant route but Matt Alati of the Warriors knocked the Carlo Zoratti pass away and Walled Lake Western would take home a 31-30 victory over South Lyon Friday night.

“We weren’t going to let that kid sit back there and throw the ball, we knew we couldn’t allow that,” South Lyon head coach Jeff Henson commented after the game. “We knew we had to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback and that was our plan.”

The pressure was effective, as the South Lyon defense recorded six sacks in the first half on their way to a 17-10 lead over the Warriors with the only WLW touchdown coming after a muffed punt at the Lion 5-yard line.

South Lyon opened the game with a long kickoff return to inside of the Walled Lake Western 30-yard line. The offense stalled, but a 33-yard field goal gave the Lions an early 3-0 lead.

The Lions were able to hold WLW to another three and out before marching back down the field and scoring their first touchdown of the night on a 20-yard pass from Zoratti to Will Kelley. This gave South Lyon a 10-0 lead with 6:41 left in the first quarter.

Western finally got on the board with 11:48 left in the second quarter with a 34-yard field goal making it a 10-3 game.

With 7:03 left in the first half, South Lyon scored on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Zoratti to Josh Travis giving the Lions a 17-3 lead and quieting a stunned Warrior faithful.

After the Lion touchdown, the defense was again able to shut the Walled Lake Western offense down and force another punt. The punt was muffed however, and the Warriors recovered the ball on the South Lyon 5-yard line. One play later, Jalen Marshall would take it into the endzone and set the halftime score at 17-10 in favor of South Lyon.

The second half started with more of the same as South Lyon scored first with 6:26 left in the third quarter this time on a short pass reception from Zoratti to Travis Marcus and the Lions extended their lead to 24-10.

Walled Lake Western then showed why they are one of the best Division 2 schools in the state as they scored the next three touchdowns to take a 31-24 lead with just two minutes left in the game.

They Lions weren’t done yet, aided by two 15-yard penalties, South Lyon drove 85-yards capped by a 20-yard Zoratti to Job touchdown pass to bring the score to 31-30 Western. The Lions went for the win, and the Zoratti pass was knocked away by Alati and the Warriors escaped.

Mike Zdebski noted that after the game, staying poised was the key, “Our kids didn’t lose their composure. We were down by two touchdowns against Canton and I think that experience helped tonight.”

He also had this to say about the Lions two-point conversion attempt, “I commend them on going for two-points in the end. The receiver was there and our kid just made a really great play.”

Leading the Warriors offensively was Jalen Marshal who collected 42 yards on 12 carries for two touchdowns. Johnny Tracy had 194 yards though the air on 15-for-24 passing and two touchdowns; with 88 of those yards and both scores going to Cody White.

The Lions garnered 33 yards on seven carries and one touchdown from Will Kelley and 28 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown from Carlo Zoratti. Through the air, Zoratti was 11-for-15 for 161 and two touchdowns.

South Lyon finished the season at 5-5 and Henson had this to say about his team’s effort, “Really proud of our kids. We have really been playing with a lot of heart and a lot of effort the last six weeks tonight we fought right down to the end. We took the number one team in Division 2 right down to the last second and had a chance to win. That is what we came here to do.”

Walled Lake Western moves to 9-1 on the season and will host Pinckney 8-2 next week in the district championship game.

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