WALLED LAKE — A fierce defensive battle from start to finish, Walled Lake Western emerged with a 12-7 victory Friday by halting South Lyon East’s late-game bid for a touchdown just in the knick of time.
Things initially looked promising for South Lyon East, as a desperation third-and-long pass was completed to the Western 16 yard line with under two minutes remaining.
The Cougars went backward from there, however. Western senior Chris Harris recorded a crushing sack, which was followed two plays later by a fourth-down interception by Abdur Rahmaan-Yaseen that sealed it.
“We had a lot to prove coming out,” Warriors coach Alex Grignon said. “They did a great job taking away a lot of our game plan and forcing us into difficult situations. We’re still committing too many penalties, which doesn’t help. (South Lyon East) played a tremendous game.”
Western’s offense was unable to reach the end zone until early in the fourth quarter when a 52-yard pass from Sam Johnson to Bryce Mosley helped set up C.J. Brown for a 6-yard touchdown run. The Warriors’ 2-point conversion attempt failed, leaving their lead at a precarious five points.
The Cougars had to turn the reins of their offense over to Ayden Oliver after three-year starting quarterback Chris Kaminski went down with an injury last week. Oliver held his own against Western, making plays with his arm and his feet to help give South Lyon Easy a chance.
“He’s only a sophomore and showed a lot of moxie out there,” Cougars coach Joe Pesci said of Oliver. “When you get in that situation, you’re asking a lot of a sophomore in his first start to finish that (drive), but he played pretty well right up to the end.”
South Lyon East’s only points of the night came on a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by senior Jonathan Carter late in the opening quarter. Western managed a pair of first-half field goals by Aiden Jennings and entered halftime trailing 7-6.
“(Our defense) played quite a bit tonight. In the first half, we only had 12 or 13 offensive plays,” Pesci said. “For us, we can’t afford to leave them on the field like that. We asked a lot of them tonight and they only gave up 12 points. (Against) that offense with those skill guys, that’s pretty good.”
The outcome held significant weight in the Lakes Valley Conference, as both teams entered with 4-1 league records and needed a win to remain just one game back of unbeaten South Lyon in the standings.
Now sporting a 5-2 overall record, Western will get its shot at South Lyon next Friday on the road, while South Lyon East (4-3, 4-2 LVC) will host Milford in need of a win to keep its playoff hopes alive.
Brown finished with 104 yards on 20 carries for the Warriors, while Johnson passed for 158 yards.