Laker D turns up the heat, force four turnovers in 42-18 win over Gray-NG

PRESSURING THE PASSER — Lake Region's Lexus Rodriguez forces a quick throw during last Friday's Homecoming game against Gray-NG. (Rivet Photo) SP w40 laker football stats LAKERS 42 GRAY-NG 18 First Downs: LR 13, GNG 16 Penalties: LR 11-82, GNG 5-35 Turnovers: LR 3, GNG 6 Rushing: LR 45-315, GNG 14-42 Passing: LR 4-7-41, GNG 23-43-285 Total Offense: LR 356, GNG 327 LR Rushing: Trey Turcotte 1-1, Doug Banks 1-0, Kyle DeSouza 18-158, Gunnar Harriman 7-53, Jordan Williams 4-17, Lexus Rodriguez 7-57, Donovan Eaton 6-24, Andrew Douglass 1-5. LR Receiving: Quinn Piland 2-13, Nick Hall 2-28 LR Tackles (solo, assist, total): Lexus Rodriguez 4-0-4, Gunnar Harriman 2-2-4, Nick Hall 1-1-2, Marcus DeVoe 10-0-10, Curtis Gerrish 0-1-1, Todd Crawford 0-1-1, Nick Lepage 1-1-2, Cole Jakobs 1-1-2, Paul Angelone 1-0-1, Dakota Stover 6-0-6, Jay Justason 2-0-2, Charlie McDonough 0-1-1, Kyle DeSouza 0-1-1, Ben Roakes 1-0-1, True Meyers 1-0-1 Interceptions: DeVoe, Jakobs Fumble Recoveries: Hall, Lepage, Eaton (2)

PRESSURING THE PASSER — Lake Region's Lexus Rodriguez forces a quick throw during last Friday's Homecoming game against Gray-NG. (Rivet Photo)

LAKERS 42
GRAY-NG 18
First Downs: LR 13, GNG 16
Penalties: LR 11-82, GNG 5-35
Turnovers: LR 3, GNG 6
Rushing: LR 45-315, GNG 14-42
Passing: LR 4-7-41, GNG 23-43-285
Total Offense: LR 356, GNG 327
LR Rushing: Trey Turcotte 1-1, Doug Banks 1-0, Kyle DeSouza 18-158, Gunnar Harriman 7-53, Jordan Williams 4-17, Lexus Rodriguez 7-57, Donovan Eaton 6-24, Andrew Douglass 1-5.
LR Receiving: Quinn Piland 2-13, Nick Hall 2-28
LR Tackles (solo, assist, total): Lexus Rodriguez 4-0-4, Gunnar Harriman 2-2-4, Nick Hall 1-1-2, Marcus DeVoe 10-0-10, Curtis Gerrish 0-1-1, Todd Crawford 0-1-1, Nick Lepage 1-1-2, Cole Jakobs 1-1-2, Paul Angelone 1-0-1, Dakota Stover 6-0-6, Jay Justason 2-0-2, Charlie McDonough 0-1-1, Kyle DeSouza 0-1-1, Ben Roakes 1-0-1, True Meyers 1-0-1
Interceptions: DeVoe, Jakobs
Fumble Recoveries: Hall, Lepage, Eaton (2)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Brian Jahna and his Lake Region football staff can take a deep breath.

So can the Lakers who no longer are staring at a zero in the win column.

For the first time in years, Lake Region celebrated on Homecoming as first-year running back Kyle DeSouza had a coming out party, rushing for 158 yards and two touchdowns in a 42-18 victory over Gray-New Gloucester Friday night.

The Lakers snapped a three-game losing streak by unleashing an option rushing attack with a new quarterback at the helm — junior Jordan Williams — and a full complement of players, who were either out due to eligibility or injuries, for the first time this fall.

Coach Jahna credited the victory to the team’s persistence.

“The reality is you really don’t have to try too hard to keep these guys into it. They are wonderful young men. We have full practices with full attendance, and they are fully spirited. No one really gets to see what they put into it every day. Our guys are tremendous. They really work their tails off,” the coach said.

Coaches and players wore big smiles as they headed into the end zone through a “tunnel” created by the student body at the conclusion of the contest for their post-game meeting.

“I think the student body and the community will embrace this team once we start having some success,” Coach Jahna said. “There is great energy in this school. Lake Region kids are fantastic and their spirit is wonderful.”

Both Lake Region and Gray-NG entered the game desperate for a victory. Early on, it appeared Lake Region would be the team to erase some frustration and disappointment from lopsided defeats as DeSouza ripped the Patriot defense for a 30-yard gain on his first touch. Four plays later, DeSouza followed solid blocks on the left side of the line to scamper free for a 32-yard touchdown. Marcus DeVoe boomed the extra point for a 7-0 lead.

CAREER NIGHT — First year running back, senior Kyle DeSouza had a career night on Homecoming, rushing for 158 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Lakers to their first win of the season, 42-18. (Rivet Photo)

CAREER NIGHT — First year running back, senior Kyle DeSouza had a career night on Homecoming, rushing for 158 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Lakers to their first win of the season, 42-18. (Rivet Photo)

“Kyle is running with more and more confidence each week. He’s a senior, but a first-year guy for us. He’s still learning how to be a running back, and is getting better each week,” Coach Jahna said.

A fumble recovery by Laker end Nick Hall set up an eight-play, 35-yard scoring drive ending with Williams bulling ahead for a yard. Junior Gunnar Harriman kept the drive alive with a strong second effort to pick up two tough yards to move the ball to the G-NG 11.

While Lake Region would find great success running the ball (45 carries, 315 yards), the Patriots’ offense was most effective with quarterback Carson Hodsdon (23-for-43, 285 yards) firing mid-range passes to wide receiver Tristan Herod (8 receptions, 84 yards) and tight end Andrew Ellingson (5 catches, 67 yards).

If LR fans were giddy about a 14-0 lead, the euphoria dissipated quickly as the Patriots completed an 11-play, 70-yard drive with Hodsdon breaking goal line plane from a yard out on fourth down to make it 14-6 with 1:39 left in the first quarter.

The Lakers nearly came up with a big defensive stand as Curtis Gerrish, Todd Crawford and Nick Lepage hammered Hodsdon for a yard gain on third down, and nearly popped the ball free.

Turnovers played a key role in how this game would be decided.

Lake Region commited the first miscue when Williams tried to thread the ball to DeVoe along the sideline, but the toss was underthrown and intercepted by Zack Haskell. A big return down the sideline put the ball at the LR-21.

LR’s Cole Jakobs and Harriman combined to toss Haskell back for a seven-yard loss, but Hodsdon connected with Herod for 23 yards and then hooked up with Kyle Keenan for a five-yard TD pass.

Just like that, the Lakers were up just two — 14-12.

The lead would disappear as LR receiver Quinn Piland had the ball stripped out of his hands following a pass completion. Dylan Elie recovered, and the Pats were back in business. Hodsdon completed a sideline pass to Haskell for 41 yards setting up a five-yard strike to Ellingson for a 18-14 lead with 6:01 until intermission.

Gray-NG threatened to do more damage before the break as Hodsdon completed three straight passes to move the ball to the LR-9. But, three straight incompletions, including a near interception by Dakota Stover, saw the drive stall.

“It’s as simple as not being used to it (being up in a game). It’s a matter of getting used to winning and how it feels and what it takes to maintain a lead — how to deal with success,” Coach Jahna said. “We made a few adjustments at halftime, but it really was about getting refocused and getting after it. And, they did. We talked about some specific audibles on offense since it’s only the second week Jordan has run the veer. Defensively, we put some faster guys into the lineup along the D-line, which certainly helped. We manned up on their tight end, making it more difficult for him to get out into the pass patterns.”

After generating little to no pressure on the Patriot quarterback in the first half, the Lakers brought the heat and put the hammer down defensively in the third quarter.

Whatever momentum Gray-NG built in the second quarter was instantly gone within six minutes of the third period as four turnovers turned into four Laker scores.

The spark was the all-out hustle of Dakota Stover on the opening kickoff to start the second half. Stover dumped the G-NG return man for no gain at the Patriot 16. Three plays later, Hodsdon was sacked by Rodriguez, whose hit jarred the ball loose. Eaton recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.

On the next Patriot possession, a bobbled direct snap to a G-NG running back resulted in a fumble, recovered by Lepage at the Pats 12-yard line. Williams would score from nine yards out.

Another Gray-NG fumble, recovered by Eaton, set up a nine-yard score by DeSouza on an option play. Three extra point kicks by DeVoe made it a 35-18 Laker lead.

The Laker D wasn’t done. A high throw over the middle was picked off by DeVoe with 7:02 left in the third quarter.

After Williams zipped a 16-yard completion to tight-end Nick Hall and DeSouza rushed for five yards, the Lakers tallied their final score on a 37-yard pitch to Harriman. The option was run to perfection as Williams made a strong pitch, which Harriman caught as he accelerated, and then motored untouched by two Patriot defenders.

“When we started to feel better about who we were, we started to get turnovers and changed the game’s momentum to our favor,” Coach Jahna said. “It’s our guys maturing and believing in themselves. Emotion was huge.”

Coach Jahna credited solid blocking up front and the tough running by his stable of backs.

“Gunnar did an incredible job, and Lexus is just a workhorse. And Jordan did a great job. We’re running a triple option, and tonight, we had all three phases of the veer going,” he said. “It’s starting to look more and more like our offense tonight. We’re getting closer to what we thought we had with this team with the return of several players. We did lose Quinn (Piland, injured late in the first half), which really hurt. It’s a huge difference. To get them all out practicing together will make a big difference. We showed where we are at, but we have a ways to go.”

The coach spoke highly of his second- and third-level players who played significant minutes and made major contributions.

“It’s a testament to the team that when one guy goes down, someone else steps in. They are really united. There have been so many distractions and reasons to be negative, but these guys have stuck together. They are a pleasure to coach. I can’t speak highly enough of their character,” Coach Jahna said.

The Patriot air attack sputtered for the remainder of the game as Jakobs came up with an interception with 1:11 left in the third quarter, and freshman True Meyers stopped a pass completion to Herod for just a two-yard gain as the G-NG drive stalled at the LR-21 with 6:59 left in the contest.

Lake Region milked the remaining time off the clock, running the ball nine times for 54 yards, with Rodriguez leading the way with carries of 14 and 10 yards.

Coach Jahna hopes the win will be a stepping stone.

“We’re building. People don’t understand that we are building a foundation with the goal of being very good at some point. It takes some time. Football is complicated, so it takes some time to get there,” he said. “As we start winning, the motivation to be prepared — to be academically eligible and working out in the weight room in the offseason — will be there.”

Next: The Lakers face a tall task Saturday night when they travel to Turner to face 3-1 Leavitt. The Hornets stung Poland 52-6 last week.

“We need to hold onto the ball and maintain drives. We really need to work the clock, and not make it into a high-scoring game. If we get into a shootout, it won’t work for us,” Coach Jahna said. “In games against Mountain Valley and Yarmouth, penalties and turnovers — which were the result of losing focus — really hurt us. We had good defensive stops and had some very good drives, but then made mistakes and fell apart.”

 

 

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