‘D’-Lightful night, Lakers pitch second shutout to be Patriots

Laker running back Andrew Douglass torched the Patriot defense for 171 yards and three touchdowns in the 25-0 win. (Rivet Photo)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

GRAY — Brandon Sargent sure knows how to spoil a good Homecoming party.

With the bleachers full of red and white clad Patriot fans, Sargent stole all the excitement Friday night, scoring a touchdown, picking off a ball fumbled by a Gray-New Gloucester receiver and recording eight tackles.

Add 171 rushing yards and three touchdowns by senior back Andrew Douglass, Lake Region blanked the Patriots 25-0.

It was the Lakers’ second straight win and second straight shutout — something Athletic Director Paul True hasn’t seen during his tenure at Lake Region, one that spans more than a decade.

“It’s about coming out every day and working hard. We don’t have people missing practice and making excuses. On game day, we’re hyped up and ready to go. We’re coming out playing hard and physical. That’s how we have to play,” Sargent said. “We’re playing well as a team right now. We’re trying to be aggressive on every play. If they make a big play, you can’t just sit back and whine about it. You go hard for the full hour you’re out there.”

Douglass and his teammates basked in the thought they for once had played the role of Homecoming spoiler. For the past two outings, Douglass has run like a bulldozer, easily breaking through arm-tackle attempts and finishing runs with big hits upon defenders.

“Our offensive line was making some great holes, and I was hitting them hard. I came ready to play. The line is getting better every day. They’re practicing hard, every day. We believe in the team and the coach,” Douglass said. “We’re making some history at Lake Region. We’re coming out hard. We believe in changing. We don’t want people to think we can’t win. We know we can. It’s just about believing. It really is. It’s about confidence and the hard work you put in every week. We’re a family out there. It’s about effort. Never let up. Everyone is doing their job.”

Although the Lakers had no success throwing the ball (0-for-4), the run game pounded a good Gray-NG front to the tune of 293 yards.

Meanwhile, the LR defense was once again very stingy, allowing just 92 yards on 34 carries. They bottled up Patriot lead back Boomer Simmons (25 carries, 69 yards), rarely giving him any cutback room. Playing with an injury, Simmons showed plenty of grit and heart against his former youth football mates, but was unable to carry the Patriot offense, which had 15 negative rushing plays on the night.

“We knew coming in that our defense could set the tone if we could get our assignments right. We haven’t allowed any points the past two games, but we’re not satisfied. We still have some things to clean up, but we’re proud of the effort. We’re seeing a different level of effort from this team, which is fun to watch,” Laker Coach Brian Jahna said. “When you start to believe in yourself and your teammates, there is a different level of effort, no question about it. They have confidence in each other. There was a time tonight when they (Gray-NG) were running some unbalanced line, and it took time for us to straighten it out, and they had some big runs. Our kids kept their composure, made some adjustments, and when that happened, we were okay. In the past, when that happened, those big runs lead to questions amongst themselves, and a big touchdown followed. Their confidence level now enables them to make the next play, which we saw a couple of times tonight — give up a big play, but come right back to make a game-changing play.”

One tone-setting play came in G-NG’s second possession. Facing a 4th-and-3 from their own 37, Patriot Coach Duane Greaton rolled the dice. A pass play was well-defended, and the Lakers took over with great field position.

They cashed in as Douglass rumbled for 30 yards and Sargent scored two plays later from two yards out.

“It was big for us. They took an early risk, and it didn’t pay off for them but certainly helped us,” Coach Jahna said. “I think there were a lot of little plays like that — third and short a couple of times and we make a big play to force a punt — throughout the game, which became differences in the final outcome. We’ve talked about putting forth their best effort on every play.”

Sargent’s hustle again gave the Lakers a short field to work with. Sargent’s pressure forced G-NG’s punter to tuck the ball and run.

At the G-NG 20, the Lakers scored on a Douglass 11-yard burst over the right side, just a minute into the second quarter. Paul Walker’s extra point boot was good.

Refusing to give up on a play paid off for the Lakers when a long pass completion from Andrew Topham to Jaykob Sanborn down the middle seemingly put the Patriots in position to get on the scoreboard. But, safety Eric Milton (who has two interceptions on the season) ripped the ball out of Sanborn’s hands. With the ball in the air, Sargent caught it and returned it inside G-NG territory. A Patriot penalty added 15 more yards to the return. LR put the game on ice as Douglass scampered 26 yards for a TD with 5:21 left in the half.

“If we are playing physical at high tempo, we’re going to make something good happen. The guys are starting to believe in each other, so when a team makes a big play, they believe that someone is going to make a big play for us and turn things around,” Coach Jahna said.

The Lakers scored the only points of the second half, taking their second drive 47 yards in 12 rushing plays, with Douglass banging ahead from a yard out.

The change in LR attitude was seen on a 4th-and-6 call as Douglass kept driving and got a good push from teammates to bull ahead for a first down.

“Andrew is playing at a different level, for sure. He is playing physical and running with a lot of confidence. Having someone like Andrew who can run through some arm tackles and gain four, five or six more yards is impressive. They had some physical linemen,” Coach Jahna said. “It was not an easy defensive line to play against. We used some hurry up, feeling this would be a good week to introduce it. In the first half when we went high tempo, it put them back on their heels. It also helped our confidence because we kept moving the ball down the field quickly.”

Maybe the most bizarre play of the night was one that doesn’t appear on the stat sheet. Inside the G-NG five-yard line, the Patriots appeared to have stopped a Laker run for no gain. But, as officials unpiled bodies, LR quarterback Derek Mondville (nine carries, 55 yards) was in the endzone, holding up the ball for all to see.

Confused, the officiating crew ruled no play and replayed the down.

“I’ve seen that happen with the veer when an official blows the whistle, inadvertently thinking he is watching a tackle being made when in fact someone else has the ball. Everyone was looking at the pile of players and Derek is in the endzone holding the ball up,” Coach Jahna said. “I told Derek the greatest compliment you could get was not one official knew he had the ball. Now, that’s a great fake handoff. He’s getting really good at making the reads, when to hand off and when to keep it.”

As LR players celebrated the win inside the G-NG visitor’s locker room, Coach Jahna sported a big smile. He is proud of how this Laker team is improving and developing.

“For many years, we’ve had good players who have tried to do too much. These guys are trusting each other and doing their job, so when a runner makes a cut back, we have players in position to make a stop,” he said. “It’s great to see the confidence they have in each other. Toughness is something Brandon (Sargent) and some of our other younger players, like Ethan McMurray, don’t lack. They’re playing both sides of the ball at a high level. Hunter McDaniel is playing really well on the defensive end. They’re coming together as a team, and it’s exciting to watch.”

Up next: The Lakers look to keep rolling when they face Yarmouth (0-3) this Friday night, 7 p.m., at the Art Kilborn Athletic Complex.

The Clippers fell to Morse 28-8 last week. They were blanked 48-0 by Cape Elizabeth in the opener, and suffered a 36-12 loss to Oak Hill.

UPENDED — Laker safety Eric Milton is upended during a run.

BOTTLED UP — The Laker defense was up to the task to bottle up GNG running back Boomer Simmons, who is knocked back here by Derek Mondville.

Hunter McDaniel was a force on the edge, stopping a sweep play for no gain. (Rivet Photos)

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