Fumblelitis plagues Lakers in 6-0 football loss

CODY GIBBONS was a bulldozer in Lake Region's opening drive Friday night against Poland. But, a turnover ended the threat, and fumbles would plague the Lakers all evening in a 6-0 loss to the Knights. (Rivet Photos)

CODY GIBBONS was a bulldozer in Lake Region's opening drive Friday night against Poland. But, a turnover ended the threat, and fumbles would plague the Lakers all evening in a 6-0 loss to the Knights. (Rivet Photos)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

POLAND — Brian Jahna needs to find a cure for fumblelitis, and fast.

One glaring problem Lake Region had a week ago in the exhibition game against Fryeburg Academy was executing the snap between center and quarterback.

Dropped balls continued to haunt Coach Jahna’s team in the season opener Friday night at Poland. A bobbled snap ultimately led to starting quarterback Quinn Piland suffering a severe right ankle sprain that ended his night with just six minutes off the clock.

Back-up Cole Jakobs and emergency signal caller Cody Gibbons hardly fared much better. Of the 48 snaps on the night, the football hit the turf 12 times, six of those bobbles or drops resulted in fumbles as the Lakers lost 6-0 to the Knights.

“Last week, we struggled with the center-quarterback exchange, so we worked all week on it. The field was wet. It was cold. I think both teams struggled holding on to the ball (they combined for 10 fumbles lost). The ball was all over the place the entire game,” Lake Region Coach Brian Jahna said. “Our starting quarterback goes down on the first drive. We suddenly have guys who haven’t taken that many reps now trying to take snaps from center. It was pretty rough to see.”

The night started so promising for the Lakers. Powered by Gibbons’ bruising running, the Lakers rumbled to four first downs to move the ball into Poland territory.

“Our first drive was exactly how we drew it up. We talked about getting small chunks and marching down the field. Up until the injury (to Piland), we were moving the ball very well,” Coach Jahna said.

NICK HALL made it difficult for Poland quarterback Patrick Jacques to find an open receiver. GAME 1 STAT SHEET First Downs: P 14, LR 7 Penalties: P 5-40, LR 3-15 Rushing: P 41-205, LR 38-106 Individual Rushing: P Adam Mocciola 10-101, Everett Bertrand 12-77, Nick Cote 3-11, Patrick Jacques 11-5; LR Cody Gibbons 16-62, Quinn Piland 2-3, Gunnar Harriman 2-8, Donovan Eaton 1-1, Luke Porter 1-minus 1, Erik Christensen 7-40, Lexus Rodrigues 1-0, Cole Jakobs 8-minus 7 Passing: P 6-16-40, LR 1-10-9 Receiving: P Bertrand 3-26, Jagger Ware 2-9, Austin Davis 1-5; LR Gibbons 1-9 Total Offense: P 245, LR 115 Turnovers: P 6, LR 6 Tackles (solo, assist, total): LR Jay Justison 9-1-10, Cody Gibbons 6-1-7, Erik Christensen 4-4-8, Taylor Barker 1-2-3, Dan Neault 0-1-1, Luke Porter 1-1-2, Marcus Devoe 2-0-2, Sean Edwards 4-2-6, Gunnar Harriman 5-0-5, Joey Beauleau 2-0-2, Donovan Eaton 2-0-2, Cam Harriman 3-0-3

NICK HALL made it difficult for Poland quarterback Patrick Jacques to find an open receiver.
GAME 1 STAT SHEET
First Downs: P 14, LR 7
Penalties: P 5-40, LR 3-15
Rushing: P 41-205, LR 38-106
Individual Rushing: P Adam Mocciola 10-101, Everett Bertrand 12-77, Nick Cote 3-11, Patrick Jacques 11-5; LR Cody Gibbons 16-62, Quinn Piland 2-3, Gunnar Harriman 2-8, Donovan Eaton 1-1, Luke Porter 1-minus 1, Erik Christensen 7-40, Lexus Rodrigues 1-0, Cole Jakobs 8-minus 7
Passing: P 6-16-40, LR 1-10-9
Receiving: P Bertrand 3-26, Jagger Ware 2-9, Austin Davis 1-5; LR Gibbons 1-9
Total Offense: P 245, LR 115
Turnovers: P 6, LR 6
Tackles (solo, assist, total): LR Jay Justison 9-1-10, Cody Gibbons 6-1-7, Erik Christensen 4-4-8, Taylor Barker 1-2-3, Dan Neault 0-1-1, Luke Porter 1-1-2, Marcus Devoe 2-0-2, Sean Edwards 4-2-6, Gunnar Harriman 5-0-5, Joey Beauleau 2-0-2, Donovan Eaton 2-0-2, Cam Harriman 3-0-3

Then, it fell apart.

Piland had trouble squeezing the snap from center and lost the handle on the pigskin. With several players diving for the loose ball, Piland’s right ankle took a direct hit, leaving the junior quarterback hobbled and out indefinitely.

The drive stalled, but the Lakers enjoyed good field position when Gibbons ripped the ball out of Poland runner’s hands at the LR-45. But, two drops by reserve QB Jakobs shortcircuited the drive. A high snap resulted in LR punter Marcus Devoe being dumped at the LR-30.

Poland cashed in as Everett Bertrand (12 carriess, 77 yards) rushed for 15 yards, setting up a 16-yard TD run by Knight quarterback Patrick Jacques. Ironically, Jacques dropped the snap, but was able to regain possession and bolted to the left, where he discovered lots of open green space with 2:19 left in the quarter.

The first PAT kick by Poland was good, but  a procedure penalty took the extra point off the scoreboard. The Lakers blocked the second try.

With Jakobs struggling handling snaps, Coach Jahna went to Gibbons.

Gibbons was the team’s emergency quarterback, and despite limited practice time, Coach Jahna felt the senior running back “did a marvelous job.”

“We keep him up to speed. He can work out base offense, and we tried to get him up to speed with the rest of our offensive package at halftime,” Coach Jahna said. “He rarely throws the ball at practice, and really hasn’t had a lot of experience running the offense. He did his best.”

But, moving the team’s best threat under center put the running game into low gear. Gibbons also struggled with taking snaps from center, turning the ball over at the end of the first quarter. He also failed to complete a pass (0-for-8 with an interception).

Poland had a chance to increase their lead with 5:51 left in the half as the Lakers fumbled at their own 40. Bertrand beat LR defenders to the outside on a toss sweep play, gaining 25 yards to the LR-16. Nick Cote ripped off another 10 yards. Just like their counterparts, the Knights self-destructed. A holding penalty and then a fumble ended the threat.

But wait. The Lakers gave the ball right back to the Knights on their second play.

If Coach Jahna had anything to smile about when he left the field Friday night, it was the clutch play from his defense.

Sophomore linebacker Jay Justison (10 tackles) lowered the boom on Bertrand for a one yard gain, and freshman end Joey Beauleau sacked Jacques for an 11-yard loss. LR held on fourth down and ran out the clock to trail just 6-0 at intermission.

“Our defense played amazingly,” Coach Jahna said. “We were a little flat when Quinn (Piland) went down, and that’s when Poland drove and scored. We recovered well. We talk all the time about ‘character,’ and tonight this team did not give up. Our guys really rallied together.”

LR fumbled a punt return to start the third quarter, but the Knights played the good host and gave the ball right back to the Lakers as Justison recovered an errant pitch.

The Knights’ Adam Mocciola ripped off 17, 23 and 10 yards on option plays to move the ball to the LR-11. But again, the LR defense stiffened as Gibbons sacked Jacques for a three-yard loss and a big hit coughed the ball up with sophomore Lexus Rodrigues recovering.

With the clock ticking down, the LR defense forced a three-and-out with 5:53 remaining. LR seemed primed to regain that thumper mentality they had exhibited on the opening drive of the game as Erik Christensen steamrolled a couple defenders for a 27-yard gain. Gibbons followed up that run with a 12-yard burst to place the ball at the P-11.

Then, bobblelitis returned. Two bad snaps put the Lakers into a 3rd-and-14 hole. Gibbons tried to run wide, but was stuffed by the Knight defense led by Austin Davis and Tanner Marston. On fourth down, Gibbons floated a ball down the left sideline for receiver Nick Wandishin, but the pass was underthrown and picked off by Jake Simard at the P-4 with 3:06 left.

Despite good Laker pressure up front, the Knights found a few cracks in the wall as Jacques made a few nifty cuts to pick up 17 yards and Bertrand iced the win with a 25-yard gain up the middle.

“We had our shot at it to win,” Coach Jahna said. “If anything else, our guys know they can come out and hit hard and compete. I thought in spots we were better tonight than last week, but we still have lots of work ahead of us.”

Next: The Lakers host Mountain Valley Friday at 7 p.m. The Falcons come off a stinging defeat 44-13 home loss to Wells last week.

“Mountain Valley will certainly bring it — and then some. I believe our guys can play physically with anyone. Execution is where we miss the boat — dropping the ball, missing a few assignments,” Coach Jahna said.

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