WL Western's defense steps up, sparks Warriors to win over rival WL Central
Walled Lake - With its offense sputtering throughout much of the first half of Friday's game at rival Walled Lake Central, the Walled Lake Western defense provided its own form of offense to ignite a spark and lead the Warriors to an impressive win.
Despite trailing 14-10 at halftime, the Warriors (6-1, 4-1) turned in a second-half shutout and finally found momentum offensively to secure a 31-14 victory and a share of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association North Division title and a spot in the state playoffs.
"For our defense to play the way it did in the second half and for offense to be able to overcome the mistakes is a credit to the kids and the coaches," said Western coach Mike Zdebski. "We're in the state playoffs, we won our division and we won the city championship, so anything is gravy now."
Trailing 7-3 with under six minutes to play in the first half, the Western defense turned in the biggest play of the half when Nathan Charter-Harris scooped up a fumble by quarterback Nick Krumm and rumbled his way into the end zone to put the Warriors ahead for the first time with 5:06 remaining.
Central (5-2, 4-1 KLAA) would respond as it orchestrated a 75-yard drive in 10 plays that was sealed on a 7-yard touchdown run by Krumm. Ben Prestel's point after put the Vikings ahead 14-10 with 38 seconds left.
After a two three-and-outs on its first two drives of the third quarter, Western retook the lead when Quintin Dowdy capped off a two-play, 23-yard drive on a 12-yard scamper. Dowdy ran for all 23 yards on drive while John Camilleri's extra point put the Warriors ahead 17-14 with 1:06 remaining in the third.
The Warrior defense all but eliminated Krumm from the equation in the second half, forcing the Vikings and their leader to consecutive three and outs following the Dowdy touchdown. Krumm, who finished the game with 18 carries for 167 yards and a touchdown and was 3-for-7 passing with 33 yards, was the main focus of Zdebski's defense. Krumm, who had carries of 76 and 35 yards in the opening half, was limited to 29 yards on the ground in the second.
"We were just focused on Krumm tonight," Zdebski said. "We did not want him to beat us and hit us on the counter. We also focused on the big man (Zach Goor), but it was Krumm all the way."
Central found itself deep in its own end throughout the entirety of the fourth quarter and was unable to convert a first down.
"We just didn't come out ready to play in the second half," said Central coach Bob Meyer. "From the very first play to the end of the game, there was no rhythm throughout and it was probably the strangest game that I've ever been a part of."
Quarterback Kyle Thomas and the Western offense scored on its final two drives of the fourth quarter, including a seven-play, 61-yard drive that took nearly five minutes off the clock and was sealed off with 16-yard throw by Thomas who found a diving John Witkowski in the back of the end zone with 6:27 left. Thomas, who finished with 13 rushes for 99 yards and was 6-of-15 passing for 70 yards, put a stamp on the game with a 6-yard touchdown run with 2:42 remaining.
The game did take a bizarre turn in the first half when the contest was delayed for more than 10 minutes with 6:19 remaining as officials sought out a fan shining a green laser at Western players.