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Aiden Jennings’ leg proved to be the difference for Walled Lake Western Thursday night, as it escaped a defensive battle with White Lake Lakeland, 13-11, in Lakes Valley conference play.

After Sam Johnson found Justin Thomas for a touchdown on the opening drive to put Western (5-1, 4-2) up 7-0, Jennings stepped in.

The junior kicker hit two first-quarter field goals of 36 and 40 yards to stretch the advantage to 13-0, giving Western’s stout defense just enough cushion to hang on for the victory.

“It’s a game-changer to have a guy like that,” Western coach Mike Zdebski said. “We’ve been blessed with kickers for a long time. When you can kick, it allows you to win a lot of games.”

Lakeland (4-1, 3-2) got on the board when Western snapped the ball through the back of the end zone on a punt formation in the second quarter.

After cutting the Western lead to 13-8 at the half, Lakeland added a field goal on a drive that lasted more than seven minutes.

That was a win for Zdebski’s team.

“We played as good a defensive game as we’ve played in a few years,” he said. “They’ve been putting up a lot of points. They had 21 plays of 50 yards or more coming into this game. We were able to prevent the big play today. We just didn’t want to give up the home run.”

Western only ran nine offensive plays in the second half, as the defense used a bend-but-don’t-break approach to hold on for the win.

Johnson finished 5-for-11 passing for 115 yards and a touchdown, and Thomas had two receptions for 59 yards and a score.

More football results

Birmingham Groves 21, Troy 3: Colton Tinsley completed 8 of 13 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns, both to Khalil Dawsey, who caught three passes and intercepted one, while leading the team with seven tackles. Groves is 5-1, 4-1 OAA White; Troy is 4-2, 3-2.

Farmington Hills Harrison 42, Rochester 7: Rodrick Herd carried 16 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns, and Moet Andrews caught two passes for 120 yards and two TDs for Harrison (4-2).

Other scores

Lakes Valley

Walled Lake Central 29, South Lyon 28 (OT)

Walled Lake Northern 37, Waterford Kettering 16

Walled Lake Western 13, White Lake Lakeland 11

Waterford Mott 47, South Lyon East 0

OAA

Auburn Hills Avondale 45, Farmington 26

Birmingham Groves 21, Troy 3

Bloomfield Hills 27, Lake Orion 21

Farmington Hills Harrison 42, Rochester 7

Oak Park 62, Berkley 0

Rochester Hills Stoney Creek 16, Birmingham Seaholm 14

West Bloomfield 57, Oxford 27

Other

Ann Arbor Pioneer 27, Ann Arbor Skyline 14

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 44, North Farmington 0

Temperance Bedford 35, Ann Arbor Huron 13

Geoff Robinson is a freelance writer. Detroit News staff contributed.

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