WEST BLOOMFIELD – Future Spartan. King of the new school year. Overtime hero.
West Bloomfield senior Dillon Tatum won three new titles this week, the latest of which helped propel his Lakers to a thrilling 34-27 overtime victory over Clarkston on Friday with first place on the line.
The confrontation of the two undefeated OAA Red Division teams produced a see-saw battle that saw West Bloomfield rally from four separate one-touchdown deficits to force overtime.
In the extra session, Tatum crossed the goal line for a decisive touchdown on the Lakers’ possession. Then, with Clarkston trying to extend play, Tatum rushed past a receiver slated to intercept in the end zone, concluding the game on the spot.
âI had my guy stuck in the line and he was pretty much out of the game, but I saw (Clarkston quarterback Mike) DePillo come out of the pocket and I thought I would let me come back to him. Maybe he throws it at him anyway, âTatum said of his winning interception. “I took the lead and all of a sudden the bullet was there.”
– Dan Fenner (@DanFenner) October 2, 2021
At halftime, Tatum was crowned reunion king, extending a busy week in which he also announced his decision to play college football at Michigan State next fall.
âDillon is not leaving the field with us. We’re trying to replace him with some of the special teams, but he’s stepped up his efforts, âsaid West Bloomfield coach Tyrice Grice. âThis game, he really came to play. Michigan State is going to have one hell of a player with Tatum playing there. “
The Lakers improved their record to 5-1 overall and 4-0 in the OAA Red Division. It was Clarkston’s first loss of the season (5-1, 3-1) and a face-to-face reversal of the two teams a year ago when Wolves won in overtime. .
âIt was a great football game in high school and a great atmosphere,â said Clarkston coach Kurt Richardson. âWe lost, but it was a great football game. This is football in high school. There was respect (for each other). Counterpunch, counterpunch, it was fun. I hate to lose, but it was a good football game in high school.
Ahead of overtime, West Bloomfield tied the game 27-27 with 4:39 left in the fourth quarter on a passing game for a third and a goal between sophomore quarterback Reqez Nance and junior wide receiver. DeAndre Hill.
On Clarkston’s possession that followed, the Wolves maneuvered all the way to the red zone, but were stacked in the line on a crucial fourth-and-inch run with 1:23 to go.
– Dan Fenner (@DanFenner) October 2, 2021
âI pulled the corner from the edge and told him to go flat along the line and go after (the ball carrier’s) legs. They’ve intensified, âGrice said of senior BJ Rankin’s crucial defensive save, who made first contact in the backfield.
âIt’s a roller coaster ride. Every year when we play at Clarkston it’s always a dog fight, âadded Grice.
Clarkston opened the scoring at the end of the first quarter on a 51-yard catch and hauled the wire behind Ethan Clark.
In the second stanza, West Bloomfield got on the board with a 39-yard touchdown connection between Nance and Hill, who combined for two scores on the night.
As half-time approached, Clarkston took a 14-7 lead with two seconds left in the quarter when DePillo found Jacob Beck open on the goal line.
In the second half, a pattern emerged as Nance used his legs several times to escape Clarkston’s pass rush and expand plays to allow his receivers to open up down the field. His 10-yard run tied the game, 14-14.
âNance is a phenomenal quarterback,â said Grice. âHe can do anything and he showed up today. If you don’t come and contain him, he will beat you. We told him to start using his legs. Earlier in the season he wouldn’t be racing, but he started doing more. It’s hard to stop. We call him a little Kyler Murray.
In the final minute of the third quarter, Ethan Clark put the Wolves back in the lead, 20-14, on a 9-yard touchdown. A missed PAT was important, but only until the Lakers missed one of their own after a tying 3-yard touchdown by Tatum at the start of the fourth.
Wolves quickly regained a 27-20 lead when Beck returned the ensuing kick-off for a score, leaving future tacklers in his wake. However, Clarkston’s fourth lead of the night was short-lived, as Nance led another late-in-game goal to earn extra time.
âWe didn’t contain their quarterback. He killed us on the run, âRichardson said.
West Bloomfield have now won five straight games following a season opener loss to Rochester Adams.
âWe are not giving up. We’ve been in that position as a coaching staff, but it’s new to a lot of these players. As long as we didn’t return the ball or make mistakes we knew we could come back, âsaid Grice.
Looking ahead, West Bloomfield will be on the road at Southfield A&T next Friday while Clarkston will host at Lake Orion.