Lakers enter playoffs on winning note, out score Poland 44-38

BRANDON SARGENT blocks a kick. (Rivet Photos)
First downs: 12
Penalties: 7-60
Turnovers: 0
Rushing: Andrew Douglass 27-179, Brandon Sargent 18-121, Brent Massey 2-8, Derek Mondville 4-27, Eric Milton 1-5. Total: 52-340
Passing: Derek Mondville 3-4-72, 2 TDs
Receiving: Isaac Holland 1-17, Eric Milton 1-7, True Meyers 1-48
Total offense: 412 yards
Tackles (unassisted, assisted, total): Ethan McMurray 8-3-11, Tyler Breton 6-3-9, Zack Clark 1-4-5, Mark Mayo 1-1-2, Brent Massey 4-1-5, Eric Milton 5-2-7, Colby Chaplin 1-1-2, Brandon Sargent 2-1-3, Seth Labreque 2-0-2, Hunter McDaniel 8-2-10, Keagon Leighton 2-0-2, True Meyers 2-0-2 (interception), Derek Mondville 1-3-4, Connor Perfetto 0-1-1, Cameron Lepage 0-1-1
Record: 5-3
First downs: 23
Penalties: 7-60
Turnovers: 2
Rushing: Aaron Paradis 34-163, Josh Cote 1-2, Brady Downing 6-38. Total: 41-203
Passing: Brady Downing 16-33-212, 3 TDs; Aaron Paradis 0-1
Receiving: Isaiah Hill 2-43, Zach Cote 9-113, Gawain Tibbetts 3-38, Tyler Tucci 2-25
Total offense: 415 yards
Record: 1-7

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

POLAND — It’s a good thing Hunter McDaniel has good hands.

In a wild offensive shootout, McDaniel finally sealed Lake Region’s fifth victory of the season when he snagged an onside kick with 6.7 seconds left in a crazy 44-38 win over the Poland Knights last Friday night.

The Lakers (5-3) seemed to secure the win when senior running back Andrew Douglass (27 carries, 179 yards) burst up the middle and bolted 30 yards for a touchdown with 1:45 left on the clock.

Down 44-30, Poland refused to call it a night. Give the Knights credit, they are gritty and gutsy. With McDaniel nearly sacking Poland quarterback Brady Downing from the blind side, the Knights faced fourth down at their own 39 with 58.2 seconds left.

Downing may be just a sophomore, but in the pre-Halloween spirit, he suddenly transformed into Captain Comeback. He kept the game in doubt by connecting on four straight passes, including a 12-yard strike to Zach Cote to keep the drive alive and later a 22-yard TD bomb down the middle to Tyler Tucci.

Downing and Tucci hooked up for a 2-point pass, making it a one-score game with 7.9 ticks left.

McDaniel, however, spoiled any thought of a Fantastic Finish, pushing his Lakers to the five-win plateau and a playoff berth, something that hasn’t been done since 2003.

“We’ve kind of done this two weeks in a row (get in a shootout). It doesn’t necessarily work against the good teams. We need to fix our base defense because we don’t want to try and answer like that against Cape. We need to make stops because we’re not really designed to play shootouts,” Lake Region Coach Brian Jahna said. “It does speak to the composure and maturity of the team that they responded each time when they were challenged tonight.”

ETHAN MCMURRAY (left) looks to tip the ball away from Poland's Zach Cote.                                                         Playoff Preview
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Cape Elizabeth
Who: The seventh-ranked Lakers (5-3) travel to second-ranked Cape Elizabeth (6-2).
What to watch: The Capers closed out the regular season with a convincing 29-3 win over York, and beat Fryeburg Academy 23-7 two weeks ago to move up to the second-seed. Cape is 4-0 at home. Losses were to Wells 14-7 in Week 2 and 19-14 to Leavitt in Week 6.
The Lakers snapped a two-game losing skid with a 44-38 shoot-out win over Poland. LR is 2-2 in record games this season.
• The two teams did not play each other in the regular season.
• Coach’s View: “Cape has a really strong, athletic fullback, who will be tough to stop. And, their quarterback is very, very good, so we’re going to have our work cut out,” — Coach Jahna.
• The winner advances to the Class C South semis against the winner of the Fryeburg Academy (6-2)/York (4-4) game.

What started as a ping-pong match between the Laker and Knight offenses, later turned into a chess match between Poland Coach Gene Keene and LR’s Coach Jahna.

The Knights hardly looked like a 1-win squad as the Poland line showed good surge and senior back Aaron Paradis (34 carries, 163 yards) bulled ahead, moving the ball into Laker territory.

LR was up for the physical challenge as Eric Milton drilled Poland receiver Isaiah Hill to knock the ball loose for an incompletion, while lineman Mark Mayo and linebacker Ethan McMurray (11 tackles) hammered Paradis for no gain and minus 1. Downing tried to keep the drive alive with a scramble, but he was thumped by linebacker Brandon Sargent for a yard gain.

Poland took a 3-0 lead as Paradis booted a 38-yard field goal with 5:18 left in the first quarter.

The Lakers went to their workhorse, Douglass, right away, featuring the senior in the opening drive. He carried seven of the eight rushing plays, but the Lakers were stopped just inside Poland territory when freshman tackle Evan Kelly dropped Douglass for no gain on fourth down.

But, the Knights gave the ball right back. Paradis fumbled, and the Lakers needed just two plays — a 37-yarder by Douglass and a 6-yard run by Sargent behind the blocks of Mayo and McMurray — to take a 6-3 lead with 2:16 left in the first. Paul Walker’s PAT try sailed wide right.

Lake Region went up 14-3 when quarterback Derek Mondville pitched a perfect pass down the middle to wideout Isaac Holland for a 17-yard score. Douglass added the 2-point conversion. Poland helped move the chains, jumping offside twice to give the Lakers two first downs.

Downing rallied the troops by tossing a 16-yard TD pass to Cote on a third down play. He also lofted a touch pass down the sideline for Cote, who hauled it in for a 22-yard gain, although it appeared he was well out of bounds.

Like the old lyric goes, “Anything you can do, I can do better” became the Lakers’ theme.

With Knight defenders placing all of their attention on stopping Douglass, Brandon Sargent showed them he too is worth game planning against. The LR sophomore made two nifty cutbacks and broke free for a 29-yard TD. He added the two-point conversion, and LR had a 22-9 lead.

Another good-looking Laker drive stalled at the P-29 when Sargent was stopped a yard short of the stick, again Kelly coming up with the big tackle.

With 1:11 to work with, Poland nearly took advantage of two big Laker penalties — pass interference and a horsecollar hit on the quarterback — as they drove the ball inside the LR-20. Initially, Paradis lined up for a field goal try with 3.9 seconds left. LR was whistled for consecutive penalties, giving the Knights a first down at the LR-6. Coach Keene opted to try for a touchdown, but Downing was picked off by True Meyers to end the half.

“You have to take your hat off to them because they had some great play calling. Their quarterback (Brady Downing, 16-of-33, 212 yards and 3 TDs) is only a sophomore, which is a little scary. I thought our outside linebackers were getting a little caught inside and weren’t able to get to their assignment, which allowed the quarterback, at times, to get some big runs,” LR Coach Jahna said. “When we played soft, they threw hitches. When we played tight, they threw seams. It was a chess match, and they won it. We need to get better. They’re coming along.”

The Knights caught a break to start the third quarter when a high snap forced Laker punter Eric Milton to run. He gained just 5 yards, and the Knights took over at the LR-27. Five rushes by Paradis resulted in a score. He added the extra point, and the LR lead was sliced to 22-16.

Anything you can do, I can do better.

A squib kickoff backfired for the Knights as Mondville nearly reached midfield to give his club great field position. And, they cashed in. Nine rushes, including a Mondville 16-yard run, ending with the LR quarterback scoring from 3-yards out. Walker added the extra point with 5:27 left in the third.

Lakers 29, Knights 16.

Downing rallied the Knights, completing passes of 10 yards to Cote and 27 yards to Gawain Tibbetts to move the ball inside the red zone. Following a pass interference call, Paradis scored from 6-yards out. His kick, however, was blocked by Sargent.

Again, the Knights squibbed the kickoff and again Mondville had a good return. LR responded with a eight play, 56-yard scoring drive with Mondville firing a perfect ball to Meyers, who caught it in stride and blew past two defenders for a 48-yard TD. The catch erased a LR holding call, and put the blue and gold up 37-22.

“Two weeks in a row, our passing game has gotten a little better. The line did a better job pass blocking, and Derek (Mondville) is seeing the field a little better, as well. And, the receivers are running better routes,” Coach Jahna said.

Poland wasn’t done. After four runs, Downing completed four straight passes, including a 32-yard TD to Hill, driving 84-yards in eight plays and just under 4 minutes. Paradis’ two-point run made it 37-30 with 3:40 left in regulation.

Paradis looked to get the ball right back for the Knights, but his onside kick try was smothered by Meyers. LR made us of the good field position, scoring the game’s clinching touchdown in five plays, covering 51 yards and Douglass putting the final nail in the coffin.














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