The South Lyon East football team faced fourth-and-2 near the goal line late in the third quarter.
Before the play, Paw Paw defensive tackle Dennis Strey turned around, looked at his linebackers and said to his teammates, "Boys, I like that goose egg on the scoreboard."
Moments later, Cougars quarterback Nico Campo tossed a pop pass to tight end Angelo Ljulduraj, who secured the touchdown catch to finally put East on the scoreboard.
A comeback was essentially out of reach for East at that point in its 25-14 loss to Paw Paw on Saturday. But that drive — and especially that play on fourth down — proved just how tough the Cougars' offense actually can be.
Holding calls. False start penalties. Personal fouls. Missed blocking assignments.
You name it, and the Cougars (1-4, 1-3 Lakes Valley Conference) probably committed it while putting together drives in the non-conference matchup. Almost every series in the opening half looked promising at first but ended in a punt.
How they looked in the final 15 minutes, though, is what coach Jake Topp wants his team to play like in each game.
"Obviously, we shot ourselves in the foot in the first half, and we had a number of problems with penalties," the first-year coach said. "We were moving the ball at times, but we got behind the sticks with penalties. We hurt ourselves in the first half. We moved the ball into their end, and we'd get backed up. In the second half, we moved the ball and actually finished drives."
Paw Paw (4-1) attempted to kill the clock in the final quarter, but East's defense stood tall. The Cougars even forced the Red Wolves into kicking a field goal, one Jose Valverde nailed from 22 yards away.
On the next series, however, East drove the length of the field with its hurry-up offense, and Campo threw a 19-yard TD to Drew Moyer, who hauled in a circus-like catch with 6:12 left.
The Cougars just didn't have enough time to pull off the comeback.
"We've got to find a way to start games faster," Topp added. "We've had a handful of games where we've started slow and came out playing well in the second half. We've had some issues in the first half in getting behind in football games."
They certainly have the playmakers to move the chains.
Campo proved to have chemistry with his offensive line. He was rarely hurried by the defense.
Daedricco Fizer, a 5-foot-9, 220-pound power back, fought for extra yards between the tackles.
Receivers Jordan Newbill and Braeden Tillman-Jones caught a handful of catches in the flats and on flood routes that yielded first downs.
"I think we've just got to come out in the first quarter and lay the hammer down," Tillman-Jones said. "Sometimes we wait too long. Sometimes it's the second quarter, third quarter or late in the second half. It's just too long. You can't do that when you're playing against a good team. But we do find a way to snap back. But sometimes it's just too late."
Paw Paw got rushing TDs from Carter Plangger (3 yards) and Carter Sylvester (2) to take a 15-0 lead into halftime. Zeyan Davis made it 22-0 after scoring a 33-yard TD to open the second half.
Briefly: Also in Lakes Valley Conference action, Milford edged Walled Lake Western 18-15 after Lucas Theriault hauled in the 16-yard winning touchdown from Billy Sternberg with two seconds left Friday night. The Mavericks are 4-1 to open a season for the first time since 2010.
Source : https://www.hometownlife.com/story/sports/2021/09/25/south-lyon-east-footballs-offense-ignites-too-late-loss-paw-paw/5865153001/1228