WATERFORD — In the offensively charged North Division of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association, nearly every game has proven to be a high-scoring, back-and-forth shootout this season.
For the first half of Friday's meeting between Waterford Mott and visiting Walled Lake Western, that pattern held true to form, as the teams traded long touchdown drives into the intermission.
But while Mott struggled to overcome its second-half mistakes, which mostly came on critical dropped passes, Western managed to pull away to for a comfortable 35-14 victory that clinched the division title in the process.
The Warriors' one-two rushing attack, featuring senior quarterback Kyle Bambard and junior running back Torrez Nesbit, was too much for the Corsairs' defense to contain. Bambard needed just nine carries to rack up 139 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, while Nesbit carried 21 times for nearly 200 yards and two scores of his own.
"He's getting the good runs because of the offensive line, which is coming off the line and moving people," Western coach Mike Zdebski said of Nesbit's breakout performance. "But he's also doing a good job. He's got really nice vision and knows when to cut it back and when to stick it up in there. He's getting better with all of the reps he's been getting the last three or four weeks."
Leading 21-14, the Warriors' defense stood strong in the third quarter, forcing the Corsairs to punt on its first three possessions of the second half. Two additional fourth-quarter Mott drives ended in interceptions, with John Witkowski and Josh Venegas each grabbing hold of a ball after it had glanced off the intended receivers' hands.
"We didn't catch the football," second-year Corsairs coach Chris Fahr said. "(Western) didn't do anything different (after halftime), we just didn't catch the ball. It's that simple."
The Warriors put the game out of reach for good with 9:42 remaining in the final quarter when Bambard dashed 31 yards untouched to the end zone on third-and-long.
"You can tell (the defense) he's coming, but that's a special player. I've got a lot of admiration for (Bambard)," said Fahr, who pulled the Warriors' quarterback aside after the game to express that respect for his game personally. "The difference in this game was their player made some big plays and we didn't make enough."
Western collected touchdowns on its first three possessions of the game, with Steven Meister grabbing a 20-yard touchdown catch, Nesbit zigging and zagging to the end zone from 34 yards out, and finally Bambard zooming 58 yards down the sideline for a go-ahead score.
Mott received a strong first-half performance from its backup quarterback, Adam Upleger, who was forced into action with regular starter Dakota Kupp sidelined with mononucleosis. Upleger scored on a pair of runs and finished with 71 yards on the ground to go along with 159 through the air.
Zdebski said his team was alerted to the changed Mott quarterback situation via Twitter chatter from the Corsairs' players, allowing an opportunity to prepare for a somewhat altered Mott attack.
J.C. Caldwell made six catches for nearly 100 yards for the Corsairs.
With the victory, Western (6-0) also clinched a playoff berth, allowing the Warriors to safely turn their attention to next Friday's clash with cross-town rival Walled Lake Central.
The Corsairs will be looking to snap a three-game losing skid in a rivalry matchup of its own next week. Mott (2-4, 1-3 KLAA North) will travel just down the road to Waterford Kettering for a noon kickoff next Saturday.
WALLED LAKE WESTERN 35, WATERFORD MOTT 14
W 14 7 7 7 — 35
M 7 7 0 0 — 14
SCORING PLAYS —
M — Adam Upleger 1 run (Avery Carter kick)
W — Steven Meister 20 pass from Kyle Bambard (Bambard kick)
W — Torrez Nesbit 34 run (Bambard kick)
M — Upleger 8 run (Carter kick)
W — Bambard 58 run (Bambard kick)
W — Nesbit 9 run (Bambard kick)
W — Bambard 31 run (Bambard kick)
RECORDS — Western 6-0, 4-0 KLAA North; Mott 2-4, 1-3 KLAA North