Lakers rediscover the ‘fun’ in football, beat Freeport

TIM CRONIN, a Laker defensive back, with a takedown of a Freeport player.
LAKERS 25
FREEPORT 6
First Downs: LR 12, FRE 13
Penalties: LR 9-95, FRE 5-30
Turnovers: LR 2, FRE 44
Rushing: LR 42-150, FRE 36-168
Laker Rushing: Jordan Williams 11-35, Dakota Stover 1-4, Tim Cronin 2-0, Gunnar Harriman 12-66, Lexus Rodriguez 12-65, Doug Banks 4-minus 20
Freeport Rushing: T.J. Morrill 2-46, Eli Fox 6-minus 19, Brady LaFrance 5-35, Brian Lee 2-13, Josh Burke 1-minus 3, Max Doughty 22-96
Passing: LR 7-15-145, FRE 0-11-0
Laker Receiving: Nick Wandishin 3-49, Marcus DeVoe 2-81, Gunnar Harriman 1-minus 6, Dakota Stover 1-21
Laker Tackles (solo, assist, total): Tim Cronin 3-0-3, Ben Moen 3-2-5, Jay Justason 2-1-3, Lexus Rodriguez 3-1-4, Gunnar Harriman 2-4-6, Jordan Williams 4-3-7, Marcus DeVoe 1-0-1, Nick Lepage 3-3-6, Paul Angelone 5-1-6, Nick Wandishin 1-0-1, Dan Neault 1-0-1, Mark Mayo 2-0-2, Thomas Noble 0-1-1
Up next: The Lakers (1-6) host rival Fryeburg Academy (4-3) Friday at 7 p.m. at Art Kilborn Athletic Complex. Clearly, a key will be whether the Lakers can either slow down or contain Raider senior quarterback Ryan Gullikson.
“He’s a really, really good quarterback, and we need to find ways to contain him. We also need to be able to stick with their receivers because he buys a lot of time back there with his ability to scramble,” LR Coach Brian Jahna said. “I haven’t seen anyone like him in our conference. He is a step above what you see. He’s good. He’s one heck of a quarterback.”
Despite their record, the Lakers will certainly be looking forward to meeting their rivals.
“It will be fun. I can assure you that it means a lot to us,” Coach Jahna said.

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

When you lose by a lopsided margin, it can be difficult to shake it off, put the embarrassing defeat in the rearview mirror, and dig deep to play with confidence and intensity.

So, when Lake Region returned to practice after a 59-0 blowout at Wells, Coach Brian Jahna’s plan was simple — make football fun again.

“The Wells game was tough. We had just 22 guys eligible to play because of concussions and injuries,” he said. “We got some guys back, and had a good week in practice, really enjoying playing football. It was about coming out here tonight and having fun. Having two teams fighting for a win spiced it up. We got back to playing character football and enjoying each other.”

Freeport was in the same boat. 0-6. Plenty of hard work, but not much to show for it.

Friday, however, was a chance for both the Falcons and Lakers to gain some redemption, and a chance to walk off the field feeling good about themselves.

The Lakers finally cracked the win column with a convincing 25-6 victory before their hometown fans. Senior Marcus DeVoe was the Lakers’ main offensive threat in the first half, catching a 65-yard TD pass and booting field goals of 36 and 29 yards.

“If you put it down on the block, Marcus has a pretty good chance of kicking it through,” Coach Jahna said.

The night actually had an ominous start as the Lakers fumbled on their first touch following a completion from quarterback Doug Banks to wideout Nick Wandishin.

Freeport drove deep into Laker territory, but the Falcons were stopped when Gunnar Harriman and Lexus Rodriguez dumped Freeport running back Brady LaFrance for a eight-yard loss, and DeVoe picked off a pass on third down, returning it the length of the field — 88 yards — for a touchdown.

But wait, a flag, of course. The Lakers were whistled for an illegal block, erasing the electric return.

“It’s frustrating because it has been happening all year. We have had a knack for bringing our big plays back (because of penalties),” Coach Jahna said. “The difference this week was we did not lose our composure. We stuck together.”

Banks coolly zipped a quick slant pass to DeVoe, who raced 65 yards for a score. He added the extra point for a 7-0 lead.

JORDAN WILLIAMS, a Lake Region linebacker, with a sack.

Linebacker Jordan Williams (team high 7 tackles) seemingly took up residency in the Freeport backfield most of the night, and made his presence felt with 7:02 left in the quarter when he recovered a fumble at the FRE-20.

The Lakers moved the ball inside the 10 as Harriman beat the Falcons to the outside for seven yards, but Freeport dumped Banks for a loss of 15 when he bobbled a snap. DeVoe tried a long field goal, which missed.

Both teams struggled with turnovers as the quarter came to a close — the Lakers recovering a fumble, corralled by lineman Thomas Noble, while the Falcons intercepted Banks.

Freeport tried to catch the Lakers off guard by throwing a pass out of a punt formation at the end of the quarter, but quarterback Eli Fox (who was 0-for-10 on the night) was forced to unload the ball quickly because of pressure from Noble and Harriman.

LR took advantage of good field position, scoring on a 36-yard DeVoe field goal with 8:44 left until halftime.

DeVoe kicked another field goal with 2:25 left after a Laker drive stalled on the FRE-11. A Banks to Wandishin slant pass, good for 17 yards, moved the ball inside the red zone, but a chop block penalty — 15 yards — later in the series forced the Lakers to settle for 3 points.

Freeport finally found some life in their running game as Max Doughty shredded the LR front wall for 27 yards on three carries. A roughing penalty aided the Falcon cause, moving the ball up 15 yards. But, the Lakers would only bend and not break. End Nick Lepage sacked Fox on fourth down with 9.3 seconds left to halt the drive at the LR-14.

NICE JOB! — Lake Region assistant coach Mike Shea congratulates Jordan Williams on his fumble recovery.

NICE JOB! — Lake Region assistant coach Mike Shea congratulates Jordan Williams on his fumble recovery.

Neither team was able to get anything going in the third quarter as the Lakers missed a 37-yard field goal, while Freeport went 3-and-out courtesy of a Williams’ sack and loss of seven yards.

The Lakers iced the victory early in the fourth quarter when Banks hit paydirt behind a Ben Roakes block from a yard out. Big plays in the nine play, 48-yard scoring drive were a 16-yard completion from Banks to DeVoe, an 11-yard run by Rodriguez, and a 26-yard quick hitter from Banks to Wandishin.

Up 19-0, the Lakers took advantage of a short Freeport punt as Rodriguez exploded through a big hole created by linemen Roakes and Dan Neault to rumble for a five-yard score with 6:38 left.

“Honestly, at times, we just don’t hit our angles. This week, it was better. We hit the hole hard, and the line did a wonderful job all night,” Coach Jahna said.

FINALLY, SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE! — Lake Region lineman Thomas Noble celebrates a fumble recovery as the Lakers claimed their first win of the season. (Rivet Photos)

FINALLY, SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE! — Lake Region lineman Thomas Noble celebrates a fumble recovery as the Lakers claimed their first win of the season. (Rivet Photos)

Freeport avoided the shutout by driving 68 yards in seven plays. The Falcons looked to tack on a late score, but LR defender Dakota Stover intercepted the ball to end the contest.

As Laker players huddled near the left end zone, as they usually do at the conclusion of home games, Coach Jahna felt both relief and happiness as he watched players leave the field with smiles.

“It’s a great group of kids and I am very happy they were able to enjoy some success tonight,” the coach said. “I wanted them to enjoy the moment. Records didn’t matter. They had a chance to finally enjoy the moment.”

Football was fun once more.

 

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