The Lakewood High School football team walked into Homecoming on Friday at J. Frank Baker Stadium on Friday looking to redeem itself from its loss to Sumter School District rival Sumter last week.
It ended up not being a good night for the Gators as Wade Hampton of Hampton used a ferocious running attack and physical defensive play to come away with a 32-13 victory.
“We were flat on both sides of the ball,” said first-year LHS head coach Larry Cornelius. “We’ve got to do a better job coaching these kids up.”
Lakewood received the opening kickoff and quickly went three downs and out, punting the ball away to the Red Devils.
WH start at its 25-yard line and put together a 6-play, 75-yard scoring drive that was be capped off by a 7-yard rushing touchdown by running back Pernell Maxwell. The extra point was good, giving Wade Hampton an early 7-0 lead with 7:11 left in the first quarter.
The Gators’ offense, led by quarterback Malik Richardson, responded with a 12-play, 57-yard scoring drive that ended on a hard 6-yard touchdown run from running back Travius Epps. A failed PAT attempt left the score at 7-6.
The second quarter would be a story of defensive resolve for both teams. The only points were scored by the Red Devils on a 4-yard TD run by running back Myles Murdaugh. The Devils missed the PAT, leaving the score at 13-6.
Going into the second half, Lakewood looked to snatch the momentum from the Red Devils early on and it did.
A quick defensive stop by the Gators set them up at their 25. On the first play, running back Lamont Dudley find a hole and broke loose for a 75-yard touchdown run that would tie the game at 13-13.
Perhaps a little shaken up to start the second half, Wade Hampton returned to its bread and butter, the triple-option offense. It kept the ball on the ground in a constant forward movement for which the Gators seemed to have no answer.
“Hats off to them,” Cornelius said of Wade Hampton, “They played a very physical game.”
A couple of touchdowns later, one from running back De’Shareoh Williams and another from quarterback Quayshon Williams, the Red Devils walked into the fourth quarter with a lead of 26-13.
Another Quayshon Williams touchdown to start the fourth quarter gave Wade Hampton a 32-13 lead with 11:51 left in the game.
The loss marks the fourth in a row for the Gators after winning its first two to snap a 13-game losing streak.
“These games are about improving,” Cornelius said. Winning these games is more for the fan base and the students. What matters are the region games.”
The Gators open up Region VI-4A play on Friday against Lugoff-Elgin in a road game.
“We’ve got to suck it up and keep the past in the past. I think we’re a playoff team.”