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FOOTBALL: Walled Lake Northern hangs on for narrow win against Kettering WITH TOUT VIDEOS

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COMMERCE — Entering Friday's matchup between Waterford Kettering and host Walled Lake Northern, both teams knew a win would be crucial to staying in the thick of the playoff hunt as both squads came in sporting a 3-2 record on the season.

In a game where many expected to be a bit of a shootout, both defenses stole the show for much if the night as Northern hung on late for a narrow 24-19 win.

Northern head coach Brett Moore noted that Friday’s win was big not only in helping his team’s playoff chances, but also proved that the Northern defense is more than capable of winning games for the Knights as well.

“It’s huge,” he said. “I think it’s big because we know that we can win defensively too. I think that so much has been written about our offense, but we can play defense. We play defense here too.”

Coming out of halftime with a 10-6 lead, Northern’s usually explosive offense went to work in the third quarter and with just under eight minutes left to play in the frame, senior quarterback Chase Burton connected with junior receiver Chris Cliff for a 23 yard touchdown score to push the lead to 17-6.

Throughout much of the night, Burton and Cliff proved to be a dangerous connection for the Knights as Cliff made seven grabs on the night for over 100 yards to help spark the Northern offense.

“What was working for us was the short pass,” said Cliff. “I think I had four or five catches on the hitch that went for some good yardage and we were able to get some first downs off of it and it was working well for us.”

Kettering, however, responded about four minutes later when Danottis Smith took a handoff and took off down the sideline and into the end zone for a 53 yard score to trim the Northern lead back down to one score, 17-12.

In the early stages of the fourth quarter, Northern extended its lead to 24-12 as a big grab and a long run from Cliff on back-to-back plays helped set up a nine yard touchdown run from A.J. Chuchla with just over 10 minutes left to play.

Kettering once again trimmed the Northern lead down to just five, 24-19 after a long pass from Danny Hubbell to Kakuan Williams with under eight minutes left to play, but Northern managed to run the rest of the clock out to seal the win.

Kettering head coach Kyle Schultz noted that he felt his team’s defense played well enough to win as the Captains were able to contain the explosive Northern offense for much of the night, keeping them within striking range all night long.

“Defensively, we played well enough to win,” he said. “We practiced their offense all week and we focused a lot on their offense and I thought we did a good enough job. I thought we blew a couple of assignments which could’ve made it even better and we just didn’t take advantage a couple of times when we had the ball.”

In the first half, both defenses dominated the game as Northern went into halftime with a 10-6 lead after limiting the Kettering offense to just one score, while Kettering slowed down the Northern offense, holding the Knights under 30 points for the first time this season.

Northern linebacker Aaron Chretien, who had a pair of key sacks and a pass deflection in the second half, said that after disappointing losses to Waterford Mott and Walled Lake Western the Northern defense got back to the fundamentals, which has helped the Knights pick up big wins over Walled Lake Central and Kettering.

“We lost to Mott and Western and we knew we had to get back down to basics,” he said. “We’ve been working on bending a lot and filling the gap and getting in on counters and it seems to be working.”

After an Andrew Fee field goal midway through the first quarter gave Northern a 3-0 lead, Kettering then took its first lead of the night on a sneak by Hubbell to put the Captains on top, 6-3 early in the second quarter.

Northern took the lead back with six minutes left in the first half on a 25 yard touchdown run from Matt Finn.

Last Updated: 10/4/2013 11:10:25 PM EST

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