Spruce Mountain cashes in on Laker miscues

SPRUCE 35

LAKERS 6

First Downs: SM 10, LR 8

Penalties: SM 6-50, LR 3-30

Rushing: SM 29-150, LR 41-72

Passing: SM 5-13-120, LR 55-11-129 (1 interception)

Total Offense: SM 270, LR 201

LR Rushing: Cody Gibbons 21-66, Jordan Williams 6-(4), Gunnar Harriman 2-3, Kamen Scott 2-6, Mike Triglione 10-1.

LR Receiving: Quinn Piland 5-129.

LR Tackles (solo, assist, total): John Casillas 1-0-1, Quinn Piland 2-0-2, Mike Triglione 3-2-5, Erik Christensen 2-1-3, Cody Gibbons 3-0-3, Jordan Williams 8-0-8, Kamen Scott 6-0-6, Paul Angelone 1-0-1, Lexus Rodriguez 1-0-1, Curtis Gerrish 2-0-2, David Cosgrove 1-2-3, Cam Harriman 1-2-3, Drew Spaulding 1-0-1, Sean Edwards 0-1-1.

Fumble Recovery: Cody Gibbons.

 

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

They may be winless, but these Lakers are certainly not heartless.

When a team is 0-5, nothing seems to go right. Despite plenty of effort, Lake Region’s losing streak reached six games following a 35-6 loss Friday night at home against Spruce Mountain.

The Phoenix (3-3), which are battling for a playoff spot, capitalized on a couple of blocked punts resulting in touchdowns and a well-executed screen pass.

And, when the Lakers appeared to be finding a little rhythm and confidence behind some acrobatic catches by sophomore receiver Quinn Piland (5 receptions for 129 yards), a fumble here and a missed block on a key down shortcircuited comeback attempts.

Yet, even the casual fan had to notice the full effort — from start to finish — by the blue and gold.

“That’s the make-up of this football team. They never give up. It is tough to come out, get down again, and be 0-5, yet they played hard from start to finish. They are a courageous bunch,” Laker Coach Brian Jahna said. “They inspire me, and I am proud to be part of this group. They care about each other and fight hard to the very end.”

Against a quality opponent, the Lakers were competitive, just a little short on talent at the moment (too many freshmen starters) and prone to untimely mistakes.

“We need to have a game where we don’t make mistakes and the guys start believing that they can win. We’re not quite there yet. It takes some success to build confidence. We let teams get on top of us a little bit before we believe in ourselves. A football game can get away from you pretty quickly,” Coach Jahna said.

Spruce Mountain struck on their first possession as sophomore quarterback Peter Theriault aired out a ball down the right sideline for a 39-yard score. Brandon Hodges booted the extra point with 8:09 left in the first quarter.

Freshman punter Jordan Williams pinned the Phoenix deep, and the LR defense rose to the occasion as lineman Erik Christensen dropped Theriault for a two-yard loss.

LR gained great field position, but after two run plays, quarterback Mike Triglione rolled to his right, looking to pass on third down. Immediately, he came under fire by the Phoenix defense and Austin Couture ripped the ball out of Triglione’s hands for a fumble and a Spruce recovery at the SM-32.

Spruce converted the turnover into points as the Phoenix drove 68 yards in eight plays with Theriault (4-for-11, 108 yards, 3 touchdowns) connecting with speedy Austin Schmidt for a 28-yard scoring strike on fourth down. LR brought a big charge up  the middle, but Theriault dumped the ball to Schmidt on a screen play to the left. Hodges added the extra point for a 14-0 lead with 11:02 until halftime.

Unable to run the ball against a stacked front line, the Lakers were forced to punt inside their own 20. Williams had his kicked blocked by Couture, giving Spruce the ball on the LR-10.

But, the Laker D held behind two stops from Williams and linebacker Kamen Scott. Theriault appeared to have Patrick Flanagan open on fourth down, but the receiver dropped the ball.

LR created some operating space when Triglione found Piland for a 44-yard gain to the SM-35. Driving inside the red zone, the Lakers again were stopped when Triglione was sacked and Alwayne Uter recovered a fumble.

Spruce turned the miscue into points minutes later was Theriault hit Matt Vigue over the middle for a 12-yard TD with 2:04 left. The score was set up by a 23-yard burst down the sideline by Schmidt, who was tackled by freshman Paul Angelone.

Unable to move the ball and a sack resulting in a seven-yard loss, the Lakers were forced to punt with 36.9 seconds left. Again, Couture broke free and blocked Williams’ kick. This time, Spruce’s Ben Greenwood recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown, to make it 27-0 (Hodges’ kick was blocked).

Lake Region finally got on the scoreboard with 3:51 left in the third quarter on a 2-yard burst by Cody Gibbons. Key plays in the drive were receptions of 11 and 25 yards by Piland, including a spectacular over-the-shoulder grab to the SM-6. Brian Brooks’ kick was wide left.

Spruce Mountain added a 2-yard plunge by Theriault with 6:08 left in the game, capping a 60-yard, six play drive — the big play being a 41-yard screen on third down by Schmidt.

“We knew what was coming. We have to learn to be a little more disciplined and follow one’s assignments, rather than chasing the ball,” Coach Jahna said.

On the bright side, Coach Jahna was pleased with the LR passing attack.

“Quinn did an excellent job! They were bringing nine or 10 players into the box, so it was really hard to run the ball because they had us outnumbered,” the coach said. “It was nice to see us hit on a few balls which opened up the rest of the offense.”

The coach also likes what he is seeing from his rookies.

“Jordan (Williams) is going to be tremendous. We had several young players — Paul Angelone and Gunnar Harriman — come in and really play well. They are playing significant roles as freshmen. Some of our guys should be playing JV but are playing varsity. It says a lot about them, as well as our senior leadership. They are teaching them and helping them grow. It’s a character statement,” Coach Jahna said. “This class will be remembered, regardless of whether we win a game or not, as the group that never gave up and helped build for future success.”

Up next: Talk about a TALL task. The Lakers travel Friday night to Wells to meet the 5-1, second-ranked Warriors. Game time is 7 p.m.

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