Poland spoils Lakers’ Homecoming, 40-23

DAKOTA STOVER electrified the Lake Region Homecoming crowd with a kickoff return for a touchdown against Poland Friday night. (Rivet Photo) POLAND 40 LAKERS 23 First Downs: LR 10, POL 20 Penalties: LR 11-95, POL 8-45 Turnovers: LR 1, POL 4 Rushing: LR 29-94, POL 56-418 LR rushing: Gunnar Harriman 10-38, Jordan Williams 4-13, Lexus Rodriguez 7-51, Doug Banks 7-minus 16, Dakota Stover 1-8 Poland rushing: Yvon Demarais 2-24, Patrick Jacques 18-193, Kaleb Irizarry 14-40, Andrew Demers 12-122, Jagger Ware 3-15, John Fossett 5-17, Kenyon Ray 2-7 Passing: LR 6-19-107, POL 4-5-30 Total offense: LR 201, POL 448 LR defense (solo, assist, total tackles): Nick Wandishin 2-2-4, Marcus DeVoe 2-0-2, Ben Roakes 3-1-4, Nick Lepage 1-2-3, Zack Clark 3-1-4, Lexus Rodriguez 5-0-5, Jay Justason 6-2-8, Jordan Williams 2-3-5, Ben Moen 1-2-3, Paul Angelone 2-3-5, Gunnar Harriman 4-3-7, Tim Cronin 3-0-3, Dan Neault 5-0-5, Chase Weese 1-1-2, Thomas Noble 1-0-1 Up next: The Lakers (0-4) travel to Gray-New Gloucester Friday for a 7 p.m. against the Patriots (3-1). Gray-NG suffered its first defeat of the season last week, falling to Spruce Mountain 48-16.

DAKOTA STOVER electrified the Lake Region Homecoming crowd with a kickoff return for a touchdown against Poland Friday night. (Rivet Photo)
POLAND 40
LAKERS 23
First Downs: LR 10, POL 20
Penalties: LR 11-95, POL 8-45
Turnovers: LR 1, POL 4
Rushing: LR 29-94, POL 56-418
LR rushing: Gunnar Harriman 10-38, Jordan Williams 4-13, Lexus Rodriguez 7-51, Doug Banks 7-minus 16, Dakota Stover 1-8
Poland rushing: Yvon Demarais 2-24, Patrick Jacques 18-193, Kaleb Irizarry 14-40, Andrew Demers 12-122, Jagger Ware 3-15, John Fossett 5-17, Kenyon Ray 2-7
Passing: LR 6-19-107, POL 4-5-30
Total offense: LR 201, POL 448
LR defense (solo, assist, total tackles): Nick Wandishin 2-2-4, Marcus DeVoe 2-0-2, Ben Roakes 3-1-4, Nick Lepage 1-2-3, Zack Clark 3-1-4, Lexus Rodriguez 5-0-5, Jay Justason 6-2-8, Jordan Williams 2-3-5, Ben Moen 1-2-3, Paul Angelone 2-3-5, Gunnar Harriman 4-3-7, Tim Cronin 3-0-3, Dan Neault 5-0-5, Chase Weese 1-1-2, Thomas Noble 1-0-1
Up next: The Lakers (0-4) travel to Gray-New Gloucester Friday for a 7 p.m. against the Patriots (3-1). Gray-NG suffered its first defeat of the season last week, falling to Spruce Mountain 48-16.

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

On an electric Friday night, Patrick Jacques and Andrew Demers stole Lake Region’s Homecoming thunder.

Senior quarterback Jacques, diminutive in size but tough to catch, rushed for three touchdowns and 193 yards on 18 carries to power Poland to a 40-23 victory at Art Kilborn Athletic Complex.

Lake Region was buzzing with fans taking part in the Test Drive Challenge — hopping into Dodge trucks from Macdonald Motors and circling the high school, raising nearly $5,000 for school projects such as Trunks for Kids — to a special ceremony recognizing track star Kate Hall’s Gatorade Player of the Year, accepted by her parents and brother.

But, Poland’s 1-2 backfield punch stole the show as the Knights erased Laker leads of 17-12 and 23-20 to keep the home team winless on the season.

“#11 (Jacques) is a great quarterback who runs the ball well. I thought we did a nice job game planning for him and keeping him quiet early. We adjusted for the toss, then he got us up the middle, which we knew he was capable of that. He is as shifty a runner that we will see all year,” Laker Coach Brian Jahna said. “I know we got tired. I know we made some adjustments that worked against what they were doing well, and then they went back to do some things they do well, which we saw on film, and they got us.”

Poland (2-2) took a 6-0 lead as Jacques found a hole off tackle, bounced the play to the outside and zipped 21 yards for a score with 6:26 left in the first quarter.

Before Knight fans could get giddy about the touchdown, Laker Dakota Stover had local fans cheering as he took the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown. Marcus DeVoe booted the extra point.

Turnovers have been a trouble spot for the Lakers this season, and it continued to haunt them Friday night. LR quarterback Doug Banks saw a quick slant intercepted by Poland’s Quinn Callahan. A strong return and a personal foul against the Lakers put the ball on the LR-5. Jacques scored on the first play to put the Knights up 12-6.

Poland nearly returned the favor when a bad quick pitch resulted in a fumble, recovered by Lexus Rodriguez at the P-41. Banks rebounded from his interception by completing passes of 17 and 18 yards to DeVoe and Nick Wandishin. But, the drive stalled due to a bobbled snap and sack by Poland’s John Fossett. LR tacked on three points as DeVoe drilled a 35-yard field goal with 9:29 left in the second quarter.

After stopping the Knights, the Lakers rediscovered its own rushing attack. Seven rushes by Gunnar Harriman, Rodriguez and Jordan Williams moved the ball to the P-10. Banks gunned a quick pass over the middle to Wandishin for the second. DeVoe’s PAT put the Lakers up 17-12 with 2:49 left until intermission.

Poland responded with an eight play, 65-yard scoring drive taking just two minutes as Yvon Desmarais scored from three yards out. Big plays on the drive were gains of 11 and 24 yards by Demers and 11 yards by Jacques. Fossett caught the two-point conversion to put the Knights up 20-17 at the half.

The Lakers seemingly caught a break to start the third quarter when linebacker Jay Justason pounced on a fumble following a big hit by lineman Dan Neault (five solo tackles on the night). LR drove to the P-23, but Fossett delivered two big stops, a six-yard loss by Harriman and a sack of Banks for minus nine to derail the drive.

But, the Knights kept the comeback door open on the next series as an errant quick pitch sailed high, and the loose ball bounced into the hands of DeVoe, who returned it 35 yards for the go-ahead TD. Two LR penalties pushed the extra point back 10 yards, and DeVoe missed wide right.

There was no panic in the Knights as they drove 75 yards on six plays, as Jacques faked an inside handoff and then put the jets on to beat LR defenders to the outside for a 37-yard score with 2:46 left in the third. Aaron Paradis’ extra point put Poland up to stay, 27-23.

With the Knights dialing up pressure up front, the Lakers’ passing game was grounded. Banks went 0-for-7 and finished the second half just 1-for-11, 26 yards.

Following two three-and-out Laker series, the Knights sealed the victory as Jacques scampered for 14 yards and then connected with Quinn Callahan for 15 yards, setting up a 17-yard TD jaunt by Demers.

Poland delivered the knockout punch with 7:04 left as Fossett rumbled 10 yards up the middle for a score.

Down 40-23, the Lakers looked deflated on both sides of the ball, especially on one play when a LR defender barely made an attempt to make a hit as Poland went in for a score.

“I can’t explain it. That is the type of play that leaves you feeling helpless. We’ve talked about character and playing hard until the very end,” Coach Jahna said. “At the end of the day, these are high school students that are dealing with a ton of life stuff, and because we haven’t won a lot of games, it can become easy to just quit on a play. Unfortunately, we did see that happen a couple of times.”

Poland nearly tacked on another score in the closing seconds, but the drive stalled at the LR-10 when Nick Lepage recovered a fumble.

“The reality is we need to show up Monday and make football fun again. It has to be a good experience to keep these guys going. At the end of the day, that is important,” Coach Jahna said. “We’re still trying to build this program, but right now we are missing a few pieces.”

 

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