Oak Park, Mi.- The Oak Park Knights brought a 7-0 record into their homecoming Friday night in front of a packed crowd under a cold, hard rain. But the weather wasn’t the only thing holding back the Knights that evening, it was the West Bloomfield Lakers who came in loaded with a talented team including many Big Ten college commits.
The Lakers came in with two tough losses and as last years Division 1 state runner-ups were looking to clinch a playoff spot with a victory. After both sides exchanged punts on the cold, soaking wet field, it was the Lakers that struck first when Penn State commit Lance Dixon swept 25 yards around the right side with 4:18 left in the first quarter. The Lakers struck again on the next play after getting the ball back from the Knights, when quarterback C.J. Harris hit Tyrone Broden in stride for a 35-yard strike for a 14-0 lead with 5:35 left in the first quarter.
Momentum was swinging all the way for the Lakers as Oak Park fumbled the ensuing kickoff with Anthony May recovering at the Oak Park 32. Harris then hit Michigan State commit Tre Mosley for a 27-yard gain. Then on the second play of the second quarter, Dixon scored his second TD on a 2-yard run to make it 21-0.
The Knights tried hard to get back in the game but penalties were a big factor for them and try as they might, they couldn’t get anything going. With 4:12 left in the half, Mosley picked off a Dwan Mathis overthrown pass and returned it 75 yards for a score to take a huge 27-0 lead into the half.
After the Oak Park halftime homecoming ceremonies, the Knights took the field and looked like a whole other team. Senior running back Phillip Stewart got the Knights on the board with a big 59-yard run juking around Lakers and blazing into the end zone. Then after some tough defense and some great passes from Mathis, showing why The Ohio State University recruited the 6-foot 5-inch quarterback, it was Stewart again cutting off defenders and scoring on a 3rd down play to cut the Lakers lead. With less than 5 minutes to play it was Mathis with a perfectly thrown deep pass to Junior receiver Maliq Carr who made a great diving catch to give the Knights a big first down and hopes of a victory. Stewart scored his third touchdown of the night at 4:24 to cut the lead to 6.
The Oak Park defense stepped up big and held the Lakers forcing them to punt but an Oak Park defender ran into the punter on the ensuing punt giving the Lakers a first down and with no timeouts left the Knights fell in a 27-21 defeat.
Stewart finished the night getting 275 rushing yards on a solid Lakers defense loaded with talent. Oak Park travels to Clarkston next week, to take on the 2018 state champions.