Lakers dig early hole, fall 46-14

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

To upset a very good opponent, a team must catch some breaks and play a perfect game.

Lake Region did neither Friday night.

Two Laker first quarter fumbles resulted in quick strike scores and Yachtsmen quarterback Matt Kingry completed 7-of-9 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns as Falmouth (4-1) routed Lake Region 46-14 at Art Kilborn.

Tall (6-foot-5) and talented wide receiver Jack Cooleen was a match-up nightmare. He collected a 49-yard reception to set up Falmouth’s second score and easily won a jump-ball toss for a 35-yard score with 3.3 seconds until halftime to put the Yachtsmen up 39-0.

Although the Lakers (0-5) played with emotion and physicality, mistakes — especially deep in their own end — put them in an immediate hole.

“Against a team like Falmouth, you can’t afford those type of mistakes. While I like the fact that our guys are playing hard and trying to make plays, we can’t afford to shoot ourselves in the foot like that,” Laker Coach Jason Simmons said. “I mean, before we knew it, we were down 18-0.”

If one wanted to see some writing on the wall as to how the game would unfold, Lake Region’s first touch of the ball was a good example.

First, running back Kyle Stevens had a big gain over the left side erased because of a chop block — the first one called against the Lakers all season. Then, Cody Gibbons appeared to have some daylight on a reverse, but bobbled the exchange. The ball hit the turf, and bounced into the waiting hands of Falmouth’s Ryan MacDonald, who went 8 yards for a score.

Lake Region’s ground game made some headway as Cody Gibbons (18 carries, 79 yards) ripped off gains of 8 and 6 to move the ball into Falmouth territory. But, a penalty and two negative plays ended the threat.

Falmouth lit up the scoreboard in 14 seconds as Kingry completed a 81-yard drive — keyed by a 22-yard jaunt by Will Sipperly and Cooleen’s 49-yard catch — with a one-yard plunge.

After a Laker fumble and Sam Bruni’s recovery at the LR 23, Kingry floated a pass to Aaron Rogers for a touchdown with 1:40 left in the first as Falmouth charged ahead 18-0.

The Yachtsmen scored on their next possession as Kingry zipped a pass to the right corner of the end zone, which Cooleen caught in stride for a 5-yard score. The score was set up by a 23-yard run by MacDonald, who was caught from behind by a hustling Kamen Scott, and a 10-yard gain by Chris Leete.

After the Lakers went 3-and-out, Falmouth made it 32-0 as Alex Derhagopian rumbled for 38 yards on a reverse, Kingry flipped a short pass to MacDonald good for 21 yards, and Leete then scored from 3 yards out. Joe Goodrich booted the extra point.

The Lakers managed a first down in their next possession on a Gibbons’ 7-yard run, but had to punt with 1:37 left until halftime.

That was plenty of time for the high-octane Falmouth air game. Kingry connected with Cooleen for 9 and later Rogers made a sliding grab, good for 31. After a miss, Kingry fired a rainbow toss toward the left sideline, which Cooleen reached up over two Laker defenders for a scoring catch.

“We knew we couldn’t jump with him (Cooleen), so we worked with our secondary people to either strip the ball from his hands and make a tackle,” Coach Simmons said. “He just went up and got it. He’s big, long, strong and a really good blocker. And, he’s a good kid.”

Falmouth added one more score to start the third quarter, going 59 yards in five plays with Michael Ryan scoring from 12 yards out.

With Falmouth substituting reserves into the line-up, the Lakers marched down the field. Thirteen running plays, including an 11-yard bolt by Stevens, concluded with Gibbons refusing to be taken down and bulling his way into the end zone from 9 yards out to start the fourth quarter.

Gibbons then delivered a big hit to stop Falmouth’s drive, dropping Storm Covens for a five-yard loss on third down.

The Lakers went 58 yards in 13 plays capped off by Kamen Scott’s 2-yard TD run. Reserve quarterback Mike Triglione had two key runs in the drive, an 11-yard gain and a 7-yard pick-up on fourth down.

The game ended on a sour note when the Lakers were whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct after a Falmouth player, who had taken a knee on a kick-off return (which ended the play), was drilled by a LR defender. The player was taken off the field by stretcher following the game, and reportedly suffered a concussion.

“As a coach, you want your players to play hard, but they also need to play smart,” Coach Simmons said. “At times tonight, like that last play, we did not play smart football. If we are going to put ourselves in a position to win, we need to stop making mistakes.”

Despite their 0-5 record, Coach Simmons re-emphasized just how proud he is of the team, and believes there will be a game when all the pieces finally come together.

“I am proud of the boys because they play so hard. At times, we were overmatched, but the kids were giving it their best. We have great kids. We just need a few more of them,” Coach Simmons said. “It’s been a learning experience for the kids and me. At times, it has been frustrating for both of us. Every game, they tell me they’re trying to win for me. I tell them, ‘Do it for you.’ They play hard, now they just need to play smarter.”

Up next: The Lakers will look to snap their losing skid this Friday night at 7 p.m. when they travel to Spruce Mountain (Jay/Livermore) to meet the 2-3 Phoenix. Spruce Mountain beat Gray-NG last week 26-12. The Phoenix beat Greely 22-20 in the opener, but was torched by Falmouth (38-7), Mountain Valley (42-0) and Wells (47-0).

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