FINAL SCORE: Novi 14, Hartland 7
Hartland’s playoffs hopes took a vicious blow
The Eagles desperately to beat Novi.
Novi came into the contest with just one win on the season. For that, the game was perceived as winnable for Hartland. Now sitting at 2-4, Hartland must win out to attain playoff eligibility.
With a Livonia Stevenson team that was undefeated through Week 4 on the schedule next, a rivalry game with Howell — which just beat Brighton — and a season finale against a to-be-determined KLAA Gold opponent, the Eagles might be in trouble.
Their hopes aren’t completely dashed, but winning out is going to be a tall task.
An incredible bounce back for Novi’s defense
Novi had its worst defensive performance since at least 1966 last week, according to records on michigan-football.com, allowing 56 points in a loss to Canton.
It was only the second time Novi had yielded 50 or more points in 479 games.
So, to return the following week and hold the Eagles scoreless deep into the fourth quarter and make the game a defensive battle was impressive, to say the least.
Novi may be biggest victim of the new KLAA schedule
Despite being 1-4, it was clear the Wildcats have talent on both sides. Quarterback Sean Gilliam is a legitimate dual threat, and much has already been said about Division I wide receiver/defensive back prospect Traveon Maddox Jr.
So, why are the Wildcats struggling?
Of course, giving up 28 points on average isn’t going to win many games, so the problems start there.
But it’s also in large part due to their schedule. If not the hardest schedule in the state, Novi’s slate is certainly up there.
The Wildcats had played Birmingham Groves, Livonia Stevenson, Howell, Brighton and Canton before Hartland. The four teams they have lost to owned a combined record of 15-5 after Week 5, and three of them were 4-1.
The Wildcats aren’t out of the playoff picture officially, but the schedule doesn’t ease up much. They still have Salem, Northville and a to-be-determined KLAA Gold opponent in the final weeks.
Hartland’s offense couldn’t finish off drives
Although held to just seven points, the night was all that bad for Hartland’s offense.
It could have rushed for a few more yards, especially against a Novi team that was allowing 237 per game coming into the contest. But Tommy Lappin rushed for 91 yards and an 11-yard touchdown on 17 carries, and the offense manufactured 272 yards.
The Eagles just had trouble getting into the end zone.
They turned the ball over twice — one interception and one fumble — and were 4-for-17 (23.5 percent) on third- and fourth-down conversions, and that resulted in drives stalling.
In a game that was an offensive struggled for both sides, the numbers just weren’t good enough.
Hartland’s defense contained Novi’s most dangerous player
The Eagles did what they needed to do on defense in ensuring that Maddox Jr., didn’t break any big plays. The talented wideout hauled in nine catches, but he was kept to just 69 yards.
But it was quarterback Sean Gilliam and running back Kyle Klosterman that capitalized on the Eagles’ attention being elsewhere.
Klosterman rushed for 101 yards on 20 carries while Gilliam completed 17 of 24 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown.
Gilliam rushed for a 2-yard touchdown to open the scoring in the first quarter and then essentially won the game with a fourth-quarter 12-yard strike to Antonio Washington.