Walled Lake Central started its quest for a third-straight Kensington Lakes Activities Association (KLAA) North Division title with a 31-24 victory over Walled Lake Northern in its home opener on Friday, Sept. 9.
The Vikings (2-1 overall, 1-0 in the KLAA North) remain undefeated against the Knights. They have won all eight meetings in the series, although Northern gave them a run for their money this time around.
“Emotional games are always difficult. Although we jumped out to a substantial lead, Northern was not about to give up,” said Central Head Coach Robert Meyer. “Their kids made plays in the fourth quarter when they had to and put themselves in a position to win the game.”
Both teams had to endure an hour-and-a-half lightning delay in the middle of the first quarter before returning to the field.
Northern (1-2, 0-1) had a 7-0 lead in the first quarter after Kirk Thomas threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Matt Kosmalski.
However, Central quarterback Zac Leimbach responded for the Vikings with a 7-yard touchdown run just before the first quarter ended to tie the score at 7-7.
Leimbach then followed with another touchdown run from 4 yards out in the second quarter to give Central its first lead of the night, 14-7.
Central led 17-10 at halftime as both teams each kicked a field goal.
Leimbach then continued his hot streak as he scored on touchdown runs of 12 yards and 28 yards to give Central a 31-10 lead.
However, Northern would not quit, as Thomas scored on a 1-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to pull Northern within 31-17.
After the Knights recovered an onside kick, Thomas scored on another 1-yard touchdown run, bringing Northern within 7 points of Central.
The wheels seemed to be coming off for Central when Leimbach fumbled and Northern recovered. However, the Vikings’ defense was able to stand tall and secure the victory for Central.
“I’m proud of how our players handled the delay … the kids were able to turn it back on again,” Meyer said.
Leimbach finished with 188 yards rushing on 34 carries with 4 touchdowns for the Vikings, while Thomas had 94 yards rushing on 18 carries with 2 touchdowns for the Knights.
Thomas also completed 9-of-17 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown, but also threw three interceptions.
Kosmalski also had 13 tackles for the Knights in addition to his touchdown catch. Andy Rabaut had 9 tackles and 6 assists.
“Our kids never give up. Give us a couple plays and 8 points, and we are a 3-0 football team,” Moore said.
On Friday, Sept. 16, Northern will look to recover when it hosts winless Waterford Mott while Central will host 0-3 Waterford Kettering.