BRIGHTON — After a back-and-forth battle with Northville decided only in the final seconds, Brighton football coach Brian Lemons was happy with his team’s 28-27 win over the Mustangs on Friday night.
“One point, one hundred points. I’ll take it,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. We’re getting ready for Canton next week. That’s going to be a physical game.”
Northville was physical enough, but the Mustangs saw their chance to win the game end when Sam Wiest’s 28-yard field-goal attempt with 7.4 seconds remaining went wide left.
The win kept Brighton (3-2 overall, 3-1 KLAA West) in a three-way tie with Canton and Hartland for second place in the West, a game behind Howell. Northville (1-4, 1-3) saw its hopes for a playoff berth dim with the loss.
To Mason Millhouse, whose 45-yard touchdown reception gave Brighton its one-point advantage, it was “just complete relief,” he said. “It was awesome. I’m so glad to get another team win with these guys. (I would) rather be with these guys than anyone else on earth.”
To get there, the Bulldogs had to overcome the passing of quarterback Luca Prior, who moved into the starting position when Jack Holland was injured against Canton last week. Prior threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns. His favorite target was Nolan Thomson, who caught eight balls for 138 yards and a score.
Much of that damage was done in the first three quarters, when the Mustangs moved the ball up and down the field and threatened to put the game out of reach.
But the Brighton defense, which had struggled, stiffened in the fourth quarter, forcing two three-and-outs, ending another possession with an interception before Northville’s failed attempt on a game-winning field goal.
Another key play came from special teams, which blocked an extra-point try after Northville’s touchdown late in the third quarter made it 27-21.
“(The block) gave us tons of confidence to go out there, get the touchdown and win the game,” said running back Carson Shrader, whose 17 carries for 80 yards were key for Brighton’s offense.
The winning score came later, when Brighton quarterback Colin McKernan found Millhouse on a 45-yard score with 2:57 remaining.
“It was a comeback and a corner,” Millhouse said. “We saw the corner was going to bite on the comeback, and we ran it. It worked to perfection.”
Braeden Chiles kicked the extra point for the winning margin.
Northville then found itsel on offense, moving 47 yards in 12 plays before its rally fell wide left.
“It was your basic Northville-Brighton game,” Lemons said. “Every time we have played these guys, it’s been close, except once (a 34-0 Brighton win in 2019). Matt Ladach puts those guys on the field, ready to play.”
Brighton overcame two turnovers on offense and its difficulty in stopping Northville on defense forf much of the game.
We were asking our defense to make a play and close out a drive the entire second half,” Lemons said. “I’ll be honest, at one point we were lining them up and we weren’t making the play at that point. But they responded. We started making plays when we needed to. It was a growing experience for them.”
Jack Gregorich, who caught a 30-yard touchdown pass late in the first half to tie the score at 14, was a big part of that defensive effort.
“It’s a great win for us, to get back in the win column, to have this group of guys ready to go,” he said. “Next week we have Canton. We’ll be ready to go.”