Boys Varsity Football · Highlander Comeback Falls Short

Article and photos courtesy of MIPrepzone

By Jeff Dullack
ROCHESTER HILLS — Since the start of the season, West Bloomfield’s offense has been nearly unstoppable, as the Lakers scored 30 or more points in four of their first five games entering Friday night’s game against OAA Red foe Rochester Adams.

After junior quarterback C.J. Harris accounted for three first half touchdowns to help the Lakers jump out to a 21-0 lead, West Bloomfield turned to its defense to hold off Adams for a key, 24-20 win, taking another step toward a return to the MHSAA playoffs.

West Bloomfield head coach Ron Bellamy said that he felt both teams played well offensively in the first half and added that his team was forced to play more conservatively on offense because of the cold, rainy and windy weather.

“They (Adams) actually didn’t have a slow first half, we stopped them on downs and they could have had two touchdowns in the first half and the game could have been a lot closer (at halftime),” he said. “Tonight, we wanted to run the ball with the weather, the wind and the rain and we shortened the game. It’s unlike us, but we shortened the game and they shortened the game. That’s why you didn’t see too much scoring tonight.”

West Bloomfield (5-1 overall; 3-1 OAA Red) wasted little time getting going in the first quarter, scoring on its first drive of the game as Harris scored on a 4-yard run to put the Lakers ahead, 7-0 with 5:13 left in the first quarter.  The Lakers would then take advantage of an Adams fumble on the Highlanders’ first drive of the game. Beau Davis fell on the fumble near midfield.

On the first play of the ensuing drive, Harris found Penn State commit Lance Dixon for a 58-yard touchdown, pushing the West Bloomfield lead to 14-0 with 1:53 left in the opening quarter.  Harris said that he felt confident he and his wide receivers would be able to find success against the Adams defense and knew he would have his chances to throw downfield against Adams’ man-to-man coverage.

“We’ve been scouting them and we knew they were going to come in and run like a man coverage on us,” he said. “We knew our wide receivers were talented enough to go by them and they were easy throws for me. I just knew I had to catch and throw it to my guys.”

The Adams (3-3 overall; 2-3 OAA Red) offense would find some success moving the ball on its next drive as the Highlanders drove the ball inside the West Bloomfield 10-yard line, but were turned away after the Lakers forced a turnover on downs.

After advancing the ball to midfield on its next drive, the Lakers would extend their lead once again when Harris found sophomore running back Donovan Edwards on a wheel route out of the backfield for a 50-yard score, giving West Bloomfield a 21-0 lead with 7:19 left before halftime.

Despite falling behind by three scores, Adams would battle back late in the first half as the Highlanders found the end zone right before halftime on a 1-yard run by Maurice Swain Jr., cutting the deficit to 21-7.

The Highlanders struck first in the second half with the help of a trick play to cut the West Bloomfield lead to one possession when senior Nico Jackson took a handoff and found Jack Bishop in the end zone to make it 21-14 with 4:51 left in the third quarter

After both teams struggled to move the ball for much of the fourth quarter, the Lakers looked to have put the game out of reach with under two minutes left to play with a long field goal.  Adams responded in a big way moments later. Collin Weeks returned the ensuing West Bloomfield kickoff back for a touchdown, cutting the West Bloomfield lead to 24-20.  But the comeback would fall short for the Highlanders as West Bloomfield recovered an onside kick attempt and ran out the final 1:17 to secure the win.