Great start, poor finish for Lakers

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

GRAY — If Lake Region could have played the entire 48 minutes like they did the first three minutes against Gray-New Gloucester, their season would have ended on a high note.

An electric 30-yard kick-off return by freshman Quinn Piland set the tone as the Lakers hammered the ball for big gains and marched 50 yards to score in six plays. Jamie Anderson (17 carries, 84 yards) scored from a yard out and rushed for 22 yards on the drive.

But, the Patriots (1-7) matched the Lakers (0-8) intensity and scored 26 unanswered points to win the showdown of winless clubs, 26-12.

It proved to be a disappointing night for the Lakers and Head Coach Jason Simmons.

“Hopefully tonight was a learning experience for our younger players. When they think about staying in bed and not getting up and working out in the summer, hopefully they remember what it felt like tonight,” Coach Simmons said. “We’re a small squad (in numbers). Tonight, we ran out of gas. We made some big plays, but we made too many mistakes.”

Two big fumbles and the loss of talented running back and linebacker Cody Gibbons (shoulder injury) were costly.

The Patriots tied the game with a 68-yard drive as senior quarterback Roman Latno found freshman wideout Adam Dumas all alone in the left corner of the end zone for a 15-yard TD. The Pats kept the drive alive converting on a fake punt as the snap went to Latno, who gained two yards to the LR 44 for a first down.

Lake Region seemed primed to go ahead as quarterback Ryan Skillern hooked up with Jake Anderson for a 30-yard strike to the GNG 19. But, the Patriots stopped two runs for losses and Anderson (15 carries, 70 yards) came up a few yards shy on fourth down.

Patriot junior runningback Josh Greenleaf (19 carries, 163 yards) brought the home crowd to life with a 71-yard touchdown run with 6:08 left in the second quarter.

LR knocked on the door, reaching the Patriot 25, but were unable to gain a yard on three tries to keep the drive alive. Bruising fullback Kamen Scott was out for the end of the series, having been dinged duing play. His absence hurt the Lakers rush attack.

GNG threatened again late in the half, but LR linebacker Kamen Scott (eight tackles on the night) drilled a runner, forcing the ball loose. Eli Szeto recovered at the GNG 25.

A fumble ended the Lakers’ first drive of the second half, and GNG was quick to cash in as Greenleaf rumbled over the left side, broke a few attempted arm tackles and raced 39 yards for the score.

Sensing they had the Lakers on the ropes, the Patriots went for the knockout punch by booting a line drive kick-off, which bounced off a Laker and was recovered by Greenleaf.

The Patriots went up 26-6 as senior Jon Greenleaf took advantage of two good blocks on the outside to score untouched from 52 yards out.

As they have done all season, the Lakers refused to quit. After a big defensive stop as Jake Anderson and Jake Fleck smothered Greenleaf for no gain on third down, the Lakers quickly got into scoring range as Skillern rolled right and found Fleck alone for a 39-yard gain. Jake Anderson scored from a yard out with 1:12 left in the third to make it 26-12.

Piland picked off a Latno pass to start the fourth quarter, but the Lakers returned the favor as the ball was knocked loose from Anderson following a pass to the sideline at the GNG 23. LR Coach Jason Simmons had a legitimate complaint on the call as it appeared Anderson never had possession when the ball hit the turf with 9:52 left.

With the LR defense forcing two 3-and-out Gray possessions, the Lakers threatened to score with 4:59 left, but a holding penalty snuffed out the chance. Skillern nearly hooked up with Fleck on a deep ball, but the lineman-turned-receiver saw the ball go off his fingertips in the end zone.

“I was happy with the effort, but not so happy with some of our actions (including an unsportsmanlike penalty for spiking the ball after a failed fourth down run) when the kids got upset. It’s something we need to work on,” Coach Simmons said. “We need to get better. We left two scores on the field, and we gave up on another play (our receiver stopped running the route) that could have been another score. The game was there for us to take. Give Gray credit. They played hard all game. They were vastly improved over last year. I just wish I could have given my seniors a ‘W’ for the year, but it wasn’t in the cards.”

Stat Line: LR rushed for 260 yards on 43 carries, while Gray-NG had 268 yards on 43 carries. LR’s Kyle Stevens rushed for 27 yards before reinjuring his ankle. LR completed three passes for 74 yards, while Gray-NG had 89 passing yards.

Defensively, LR leaders were Jamie Anderson 13 tackles, Jake Anderson 10, Kamen Scott 8.

Turnovers: LR 3, Gray-NG 2.

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