Walled Lake Northern claimed victory in the “Battle of Bogie Lake” over rival Huron Valley Lakeland at home, 28-21, on Thursday, Oct. 6.
The win marked the Knights’ (4-3 overall, 3-2 in the KLAA North) first victory over the Eagles since 2005 and moved them to within two victories of clinching an automatic state playoff berth, which would be the first in the school’s history.
“It was a good win for our team and our program,” said Northern Head Coach Brett Moore. “In a rivalry game, it’s always closely contested. We are happy with the way the kids played and the kids left everything on the field.”
Lakeland fell to 3-4 and 2-3 in the KLAA North and must win its final two games and then hope it can qualify for the playoffs based on playoff points.
The first quarter was scoreless before quarterback Kirk Thomas threw a 37-yard touchdown strike to Ted Lilley for a 6-0 Northern advantage before the Knights missed the extra point.
Lakeland responded with a 60-yard drive that was capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Casey Palanca, giving the Eagles a 7-6 lead.
The Thomas-Lilley connection struck again as Thomas threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Lilley to complete a 72-yard drive and Northern led 14-7 at halftime after a two-point conversion.
Lakeland’s Charles Sanders then continued his strong play this season as he ran for a 43-yard touchdown in the third quarter, but the Eagles missed the extra point and trailed 14-13.
Northern then answered when Thomas threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Cam De Sir and the Knights had a 21-13 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Lakeland then tied the game when Palanca threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Bradley Govan and succeeded on a 2-point conversion.
But, Northern then drove 80 yards down the field, as Thomas gave the Knights the lead on a 13-yard touchdown run.
“Lakeland did a good job of milking the clock in the second half,” Moore said. “They ran Sanders a lot and he was their workhorse.
“Our defense is playing really good right now, considering they are on the field for as long as they are because of the style of offense we play,” he added. “We have to improve our special teams and stop giving teams the short field to work with, both on specials and on our offensive turnovers.”
Thomas finished completing 13-of-20 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns in addition to 87 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Kosmalski also had 13 tackles for the Knights while Mike Peer had 11 tackles.
Palanca was held to 39 yards passing with a touchdown and a lost fumble.
Sanders finished with 131 yards rushing on 20 carries for the Eagles. Josh Orlando also had 5 solo tackles and a fumble recovery.
Northern will next host a KLAA crossover game against Huron Valley Milford on Friday, Oct. 14. Milford is looking to clinch a state playoff berth with a victory.
Meanwhile, Lakeland will host Pinckney on Oct. 14 in its final tune-up before its rivalry game against Milford on Oct. 21.