Waterford — Calvin Brown wasn’t about to let Waterford Mott gain any momentum, cutting in front of a receiver and returning an interception 100 yards to help Walled Lake Western to a 52-13 Lakes Valley Conference victory Friday night.
Mott (3-1, 3-1) and Western (3-1, 3-0) have developed a strong rivalry in the past several years. The teams split the previous four meetings, including Western’s 38-7 rout in 2016 when it advanced to the Division 2 title game and Mott avenging the loss with a 47-37 victory last year.
Western junior Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen set the tempo by making a tackle and getting a pass breakup from his cornerback spot on the opening series before scoring on a 16-yard touchdown reception off a pass from Sam Johnson for a 7-0 cushion.
Yaseen would be an impact player all night, coming up with a 40-yard reception on the next series to set up a 41-yard field goal by Aiden Jennings for a 10-0 lead late in the opening quarter.
It looked like Mott was ready to cut the deficit when Matthew Castillo found Kam Manley for 18 yards to set up a first-and-goal at the 9. But two plays later Castillo telegraphed a pass and Brown stepped in front of the receiver at the goal line, picked it off and sprinted down the left sideline for the touchdown with 10:22 left in the half for a 17-0 advantage.
“We’ve been practicing all week about that play. I just read the quarterback eyes and knew I had to make a play,” said Brown, who scored five touchdowns, including runs of 26, 2 and 4 yards and a 50-yard kickoff return.
Mott cut the deficit to 17-7 at halftime when Castillo found Quillen Howze for a 65-yard touchdown pass midway through the second quarter, but that would be as close as Mott would get.
Western dominated the third quarter to open a 38-7 lead, capitalizing on a pair of Yaseen interceptions.
First, Johnson — a Boston College commit — directed an 80-yard drive, finding Yaseen down the left sideline on the first play for 38 yards to the Mott 42. Johnson then fired a pass to Malcomb Baker for 14 yards on a fourth-and-8 to set up Brown’s 26-yard touchdown run just two minutes into the second half.
Western would then score two more times in less than a minute for a 38-7 cushion with 5:34 left in the third
Yaseen’s first interception gave Johnson a short field to work with at Mott’s 45 and Kevin Jackson’s 30-yard run set up Brown’s third score, this time a 2-yard run with 6:12 left in the third.
Then, Yaseen would come up with Western’s third interception, this time at Mott’s 48. Johnson quickly went up top, finding Baker for a 34-yard toss down the right sideline. Johnson scored on the next play on a 14-yard option run with 5:34 left in the third.
“We had to make adjustments because we knew they had to throw the ball a lot,” Yaseen said. “He ran a hit route on the first one and I just jumped the route and picked it off. He just threw a bad ball on the second one.”
Western’s defense forced the three turnovers that turned into 21 points. And Western slowed down Mott’s 5-foot-9, 210-pound running back Marcus Guerrero, who came in averaging 10 yards a carry.
Guerrero was limited to 20 yards on his first 11 carries before breaking loose for a 19-yard gain late in the third quarter.
Johnson took a seat on the bench after three quarters, having completed 9 of 14 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown.