Warren Mott keeps playoff hopes alive with narrow win over SH Stevenson
WARREN, Mich. – The last two meetings between Warren Mott and Sterling Heights Stevenson were settled by an average margin of 4.0 points, and Mott won both of those games. Tonight was no different, as the Marauders traded blows all night with the Titans, pulling out a 21-17 win in the end.
The win was a much needed win for Mott, as it came into tonight’s game, needing three wins to qualify for the state playoffs.
"This win was huge for us," said Mott head coach Tom Milanov. "I told our guys after the game, this was the gutsiest performance, as far as coming back from adversity that we’ve had here. We were down, we were kicked, but we were able to come back, and get back after it."
Mott (3-3) took an early 7-0 lead, when senior quarterback, Connor Madigan, snuck over the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown run. Points weren’t going to be easy to come by with these two defenses, so each possession was crucial.
Stevenson (5-2) was forced to punt on their first three offensive possessions, but was finally able to break though with 10:19 left in the half. Junior quarterback, Frankie D’Ascenzo, rushed through the Mott defense untouched, to tie things at 7-7. The Titans would add a 27-yard field goal just before the half, to take over the lead 10-7.
"All of our guys had doubts in their minds a little bit, but that’s just human nature," said Milanov. "But I just told them to keep fighting, and they had a lot of mental toughness, and were able to fight back for this win."
Mott was obviously listening to their coach, scoring on the first drive on the second half, to take a 14-10 lead, on a 2-yard run by Madigan once again. But Stevenson would fight right back. After stopping Mott on 4th down, the Titans were given great field position at their own 48-yard line, and used just three plays to regain the lead at 17-14, when senior running back Nick Turner rumbled in from 22 yards out for a score.
Mott found themselves down once again, but they never stopped fighting. The Marauders needed five yards, on a 4th down play deep in Titans, territory, but got 18 instead, when Madigan hooked up with junior wide receiver, Tylen Redding. Madigan, who had been playing well all game, was forced to sit out a few plays, so instead junior Jason Lilaj. It didn’t take long for him to make an impact as well, hitting Redding from 17-yards out, to score the go-ahead touchdown, and take a 21-17 lead with 3:06 left in the game.
"Usually in practice, when our back-up quarterback comes in, he always throws the fade," said Redding. "I knew I was going to run a fade, so I ran the route, and went to go score.
"This was basically a playoff game for us. It was either win, or go home. This is the biggest win of my career so far right here."
Redding wasn’t don’t yet making plays. Stevenson still had plenty of time to go down the field and score, but he negated that possibility, jumping in front of a D’Ascenzo pass to seal the win.