Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen rises to the fore on fourth down as Walled Lake Western routs South Lyon
Walled Lake — Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen showed why he is considered one of the premier players in the state on Friday night.
Yaseen hauled in a pair of fourth-down passes for touchdowns in the opening half to help No. 16 Walled Lake Western to a 40-10 victory over No. 12 South Lyon in the showdown for first place in the Lakes Valley Conference.
Yaseen finished with 241 all-purpose yards, including seven receptions for 111 yards, and Western’s defense played well, limiting South Lyon to 157 total yards.
He even threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to MacKenzie Elebra with 3:01 left in the game for the exclamation point.
“I think I showed everybody that I can do it all," Yaseen said. "I play defense, quarterback, running back, wide receiver, loved it all. It was the first time I worked out of the wildcat, worked on it all week. On my pass, we knew they were going to bite and come up for the run, so we just snuck one behind them. I usually don’t throw it, but I can throw it.”
Things didn’t start out well for Western (6-1, 6-0), which fumbled deep in its own territory on the game’s opening drive to give the ball to South Lyon (6-1, 5-1) at the 7.
But Western senior safety Sam Ahern kept South Lyon quarterback Connor Fracassi out of the end zone on a fourth-down run to stop the threat.
Then Western took advantage of a South Lyon fumble on a punt return, getting a short field to work with at the South Lyon 43.
Western junior quarterback Zach Trainor found the Northwestern-bound Yaseen over the middle on a fourth-and-5 and Yaseen turned it into a 38-yard score for a 7-0 lead.
Western increased the lead to 14-0 with 8:18 left in the second quarter when it took advantage of another short field following a blocked punt by Brandon Canfield at the South Lyon 25.
With Trainor (6-for-9 passing, 104 yards, TD) on the sidelines after getting slammed to the turf on a sack, Jonathan Abele (6-for-13, 94 yards, 2 TDs) came in and found Yaseen for a 23-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-7 play.
“He’ll be fine," Western coach Alex Grignon said of Trainor. "They just wanted to keep him out for precaution, and we have a lot of faith in Abele. It’s almost funny because he’s such a nonchalant, low intensity kid, cracking jokes, very dry sense of humor. There’s no moment too big for him.
"When Zach got banged up it was an easy switch, ‘Hey Abele you’re out.’ He knows what his skill set is and when he sees something he takes it and he’s not afraid to throw.”
Western made another big defensive play when 6-foot-3, 305-pound Justin Collier sacked Fracassi for a 5-yard loss on a fourth-and-1 play at the South Lyon 27.
“The fourth-down stop wasn’t just me, it was my whole team," Collier said. "We all came down and dug deep. We had all the momentum going into the game. We just went out and played Western football to be honest. We practiced hard all week, came out and gave it everything we had.”
Western again took advantage of the short field when Abele broke loose for a 14-yard touchdown run on fourth down with 4:37 left in the half for a 21-0 cushion.
South Lyon pulled within 21-7 when Brenden Lach returned a kickoff 65 yards to the Western 26, setting up Fracassi’s 2-yard TD run with 3:40 left in the half.
South Lyon had its best drive to start the second half, moving from its own 29 to Western’s 9 following Fracassi’s 24-yard run, but the drive stalled when Fracassi threw an incompletion under heavy pressure on third down and William Stoyanovich kicked a 20-yard field goal.
Western scored on yet another fourth-down play when Abele found C.J. Brown over the middle for a 34-yard TD to make it 28-10 with 4:49 left.
Grignon used Yaseen in the wildcat for several plays during the second half, including his TD toss.
South Lyon fumbled on two straight kickoffs during the fourth quarter, one leading to Yaseen’s TD pass and the second leading to Robert Bethel’s 20-yard TD run with 2:30 left.
Fracassi finished 11-for-22 passing for 105 yards.