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Gators face off with AC Flora searching for first region win

By TIM LEIBLE
tim@theitem.com
Posted 10/10/19

The Lakewood football team opened up 4A Region IV play last week with a matchup against Orangeburg-Wilkinson. The Gators were able to get into the half locked in a 7-7 tie, but O-W ended up coming away with a 21-7 win.

Penalties were Lakewood's …

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Gators face off with AC Flora searching for first region win

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The Lakewood football team opened up 4A Region IV play last week with a matchup against Orangeburg-Wilkinson. The Gators were able to get into the half locked in a 7-7 tie, but O-W ended up coming away with a 21-7 win.

Penalties were Lakewood's biggest Achilles' Heel in the loss, as they were able to move the ball, but saw several drives stall out due to laundry on the field. Head coach Larry Cornelius said that the Gator's number one focus this week has been discipline.

"We moved the ball, we just had too many penalties. That's bottom line, the reason we lost the game was penalties on the offensive side," said Cornelius. "It doesn't matter who we play on Friday night, we have to correct the mistakes we made Friday and without question we've gotta cut down on those penalties."

Lakewood is going to have to play a clean game on Friday night, because they've got a tough region matchup around the corner when they host A.C. Flora. The Falcons come into the matchup with a perfect 6-0 record and a high-powered offense. Flora has scored at least 37 points in every game so far in an offense that runs through halfback Matthew Pack Jr. Cornelius said the biggest thing they can do to slow down the Falcons is to make sure Flora doesn't have the ball in their hands.

"Their offense is obviously legit, I think the least they've scored in a game in 37," said Cornelius. "We've gotta move the ball on offense to move the chains to cut down time and cut down possessions (for Flora). That's going to be big."

The Gators have a tough task ahead of them on the offensive end as well. Flora held Crestwood to just seven points in their lone region game so far this season and have held three of their six opponents under two touchdowns. Cornelius said that their offense is going to live and die by their big offensive line on Friday night.

"The key on offense, whether you're passing or running the ball, it comes down to the offensive line play and if we can block the box," said the Gator head coach. "That's the key, it's in the trenches. If we can get some movement there, they have two very good inside linebackers, but I think we can win the day up front, but it's going to be about trying to hem up those linebackers and get what we can."

Lakewood comes in as an underdog against one of the top teams in the region, but Cornelius and the Gators aren't too worried about expectations.

"To be honest, I think our guys are confident. I think Friday proved that we can hang with anybody," said Cornelius. "If you look at O-W and what their record was and what they've done so far this year and what we've done, most people would've picked O-W in that game and picked them big.

Our guys, we don't care what everyone else says," continued the Lakewood head coach. "We're focused on what happens inside that locker room, what our belief system is. I don't think you're going to have any guys from Lakewood who are going to have big eyes at a 6-0 record. That's not to take anything away from Lakewood, but those six games happened in the last six weeks, they didn't happen this Friday night."