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Gators drop region opener to O-W 21-7

Eddie Litaker
Special to the Sumter Item
Posted 10/6/19

Lakewood got off to a good start Friday in its Region 4-4A opener, driving for a touchdown on its second offensive series against Orangeburg-Wilkinson.

Unfortunately, that would be the Gators' only score of the night as the Bruins rallied for a …

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Gators drop region opener to O-W 21-7

Posted

Lakewood got off to a good start Friday in its Region 4-4A opener, driving for a touchdown on its second offensive series against Orangeburg-Wilkinson.

Unfortunately, that would be the Gators' only score of the night as the Bruins rallied for a 21-7 victory to spoil Homecoming at J. Frank Baker Stadium.

"Obviously, I'm disappointed that we lost. That's from the head coach on down to the players," said Lakewood head coach Larry Cornelius, whose team dropped to 2-4 overall and 0-1 in region. "We all made mistakes, and obviously what I'm upset about are the penalties. You take out the penalties and we win the ball game. Now, that's on the offensive side. Defense, I thought, played a pretty solid game tonight, made some big stops."

The lone Gator scoring drive went for 67 yards in 11 plays, with the offense playing up-tempo. Cody Windham connected with Kameron Rodriguez on a 27-yard pass, and Javontae Lewis added a 16-yard run to take the Gators down to the three yard line. James Wright punched the ball in, and Carlos Cadena added the extra point to give Lakewood the 7-0 advantage with 5:15 to play in the opening quarter.

O-W held the ball for 12 plays on its next possession, netting three first downs, but two costly penalties, including one for intentional grounding, derailed the drive, forcing a punt from the 43.

The Bruins took over at Gators' 39 on the next possession and were in the end zone eight plays later on a 4-yard Joqwan Guinyard run, tying the game at 7-7 after an Aaron Tinker PAT kick with 5:09 left in the half.

O-W would have another chance to score before halftime, taking over at the Lakewood 24 after a 30-yard Cadena punt from the 9 and a 15-yard late hit penalty. A 7-yard pass from quarterback Jyrion George to Nahshawn Hezekiah and a 5-yard Tre'erion Thomas run set up a first-and-10 from the 12, but Jamie Golden halted the threat with an interception of George on the next play.

The Bruins had points taken off the board early in the second half due to an offensive penalty. George hit

Maurice Livingston with what appeared to be a 3-yard touchdown pass but a procedural call brought the ball back to the 8. George then misfired on two pass attempts, with Trevarus Davis breaking up a pass attempt in the end zone on fourth down.

Lakewood could not capitalize on the defensive stop, failing to make a first down. That would prove costly as O-W would have a short field to work with, taking over at the Gators' 41 after a 34-yard Cadena punt. Guinyard broke off runs of 23 and three yards before Isaiah Tyler ran it in from 15 yards out for the go-ahead score. Tinker's PAT stretched the Bruins' lead to 14-7 at the 5:19 mark of the third.

The Gator defense would make another big stand in the final quarter, thwarting a 14-play, 67-yard O-W drive. Most of the yards came on the ground, with George adding two completions for 30 yards. After a timeout, the Bruins decided to go for the field goal but Tinker was well short from 23 yards out.

Lakewood's last drive ended with Daylen Buckery coming away with a tipped ball interception of Windham. With the Bruins taking over at the Gator 36, it took just four plays for O-W to add an insurance score. After setting up the two previous scores, Guinyard finally got a score of his own, running it in from 14 yards out for the final score of the night with 1:51 to go.

"We did enough on defense to win this ball game," Cornelius said. "We scored that lone touchdown on an up-tempo offense, and then after that we were getting all of these 5-yard variety penalties and it's stopping drives. We can't be up-tempo when we're getting dumb penalties like that. We came up short, but I loved the energy level tonight. Even though we lost, I thought we played our most complete game."

Lakewood hosts A.C Flora on Friday.