HUBER HEIGHTS, Ohio – Lakota West played bend-but-don't-break defense on Friday.
Wayne out gained the Firebirds, 547-437, but the Lakota West defense came up big in the second half, stopping the Warriors three times on fourth down en route to a 31-27 victory.
"Our defense made stops when they had to," Lakota West head coach Larry Cox said. "The defense grew up tonight."
The Firebirds (2-1) started with an impressive opening drive, capped off by a Malik Grove 1-yard touchdown run.
Wayne wide receiver Devin Reed returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. After a missed extra point, Lakota West led 7-6.
The Firebirds tacked on a 19-yard field goal before Wayne quarterback D'Mitrik Trice connected with Tristan Davis for a 13-yard touchdown. The Warriors led 13-10 at the end of the first quarter.
Wayne receiver Devin Reed and Lakota West quarterback Malik Grove both found the end zone again in the second quarter. The Warriors held a 20-17 halftime lead.
Firebirds running back Mikel Horton scored the only points of the third quarter on a 31-yard touchdown scamper. Wayne threatened to regain the lead but came up just short on fourth down at the goal line.
The Warriors (2-1) would regain the lead in the fourth quarter on D'Mitrik Trice's third touchdown pass of the game, this time to Matt Wilcox.
But Lakota West answered on its next possession as Malik Grove hooked up with Mikel Horton for the decisive 27-yard touchdown.
Wayne threatened late in the game but was denied on fourth down twice by the Firebirds’ defense.
Lakota West running back Mikel Horton finished with 92 yards rushing, 66 yards receiving, and two touchdowns.
Wayne quarterback D'Mitrik Trice threw for 269 yards and three touchdowns.
Next week, Lakota West travels to Hamilton. Wayne will look to get back on track when it hosts Xenia.