Game of inches: Schlagle one yard short of postseason opportunity, as Lions deal Stallions heartbreaking loss


By NICK SLOAN, NJSloan212@gmail.com

For the second straight year, the Lansing Lions eliminated the Schlagle Stallions from the postseason race.

This year, the loss hurt a lot more.

In a game Schlagle let slip away, Lansing defeated the Stallions 27-26, clinching a spot in the postseason and setting up a district championship game against Mill Valley next week.

De'Ante Ambler kicked off the scoring for the Stallions, scoring on a 28-yard touchdown reception from D.J. Sayles.

After leading 12-6, the Stallions began to unravel a bit. Taking the ball over with about 30 seconds left, the Lions would end up scoring an unlikely touchdown set up by a long gain - taking a 13-12 lead into halftime.

To open the second half, Schlagle may have went on its best drive of the season.

Behind J'veyon Browning and Keyaun Burke, the Stallions played some smash-mouth football, scoring a touchdown from 13 yards out on the opening drive and regaining a 20-13 advantage.

With 3:57 left in the third quarter, it appeared the Stallions had an opportunity to put Lansing on the ropes after Phillip Thomas recovered a Lansing fumble at around midfield.

However, the Stallions went three and out on the drive, with Browning not touching the ball on any play in the drive.

On the next Lions drive, two Schlagle pass-interference calls were key in putting the Lions in scoring position. One of the pass-interference calls negated an interception by a member of the Stallions secondary. The ball appeared to be uncatchable.

At the one-yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter, quarterback Lucas Mein scored from one yard out, tying the game at 20.

The ensuing kickoff continued the Lansing momentum. Stallions returner Devron Todd fumbled the ball, which was recovered by a Lions defender. Lansing cashed in moments later with a 19-yard touchdown to regain the lead.

With under six minutes left in the game, it was the senior Browning who did his best to put the Stallions in the postseason.

Browning had a 28-yard gain that put the Stallions into Lansing territory. He also gained the final 11 yards on the drive, including the touchdown run on a 4th-and-5 call.

Down 27-26, the Stallions decided to go for the two-point conversion. This time, the Lansing defensive line stiffened up, stopping Browning on the one-yard line.

Schlagle had one final opportunity in the game, but Sayles tossed an interception on the first and final play of the drive.

With the loss, Schlagle falls to 4-4 on the season. The Stallions' 0-2 district record eliminates them from the postseason picture.

Meanwhile, the Lions clinched a bid in the postseason and will have the opportunity at a district championship. The challenge will be tough as Mill Valley comes to town.

Lansing leaves the game with a 3-5 record.