Larry Cornelius knew his Lakewood High School Gators would have a difficult time running the football in their Region IV-4A contest against undefeated A.C. Flora on Friday at J. Frank Baker Stadium.
However, it may have been a little bit more …
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However, it may have been a little bit more difficult than anticipated.
LHS only managed 65 yards rushing, 48 of those coming on a touchdown run with one second left in the game, as the Falcons won 34-14.
"We knew coming in they were very strong up front," said Cornelius, whose team fell to 2-5 overall and 0-2 in region play. "They really dominated the game up front on both sides of the ball."
Flora, the defending region champion, improved to 7-0 overall and 2-0 in region play. It is the No. 6 team in the 4A poll of the S.C. Prep Media Football Poll.
Lakewood had a chance early to take control of the game, but it literally let it go through its fingertips.
Lakewood won the coin toss and elected to receive. It picked up two yards on each of its first two plays to set up quarterback Cody Windham going deep on third down. He had wide receiver James Wright wide open on a blown coverage, but Wright couldn't come down with the ball.
"We knew they were going to make it hard on us up front," Cornelius said. "We were going to try and run it and take some home run shots. That was one of them, and we didn't make the play."
Flora was quarterbacked by Wise Segars, who started for Wilson Hall last season. He was intercepted on his second pass of the game. He was intercepted by Wright, who returned it 23 yards to the Falcons 37-yard line.
The Gators got as close as the ACF 19-yard line. They had to settle for a 35-yard field goal attempt by Carlos Cadena and it came up short.
It didn't take the Falcons long to get in the end zone after the miss. Running back Matthew Pack Jr. broke off a 21-yard run and followed it with a 54-yarder to the Gator 5. After an offsides penalty, Segars connected with a slant to wide receiver Carew Bates for a 3-yard touchdown pass. Harper Fordham added an extra point to make it 7-0 with 5:08 left in the first quarter.
"Wise has been starting for us all season," said ACF head coach Dustin Curtis. "He's worked hard and has improved from week to week, but tonight was not a good game for him. It was probably his worst of the season."
Segars was 7-for-14 for 80 yards to go with the touchdown and the pick.
The Lakewood defense made a good stand on ACF's next possession. Following a short punt, the Falcons started at the LHS 44. They had to punt after three plays though.
The next time A.C. Flora got the ball though, it again found the end zone. Segars completed a 13-yard pass to tight end Banks Segars before Pack broke off runs of 17 and 27 yards. Terrell Coleman scored on an 8-yard run to make it 14-0 with 8:19 left in the first half.
The Falcons took complete control of the game with an 8-play, 79-yard scoring drive. The big play of the drive was a 34-yard catch-and-run pass from Segars to Pack for a first down at the 28.
Consecutive 12-yard runs by Coleman set up a 4-yard scoring run by Pack to make it 21-0 with 2:11 left in the second quarter.
"Our defense gave up some big running plays, but I thought we played pretty well,' Cornelius said. "Some of that goes back on the offense though. We only had three first downs in the first half."
Flora didn't score again until 53 seconds were left in the third quarter to make it 28-0.
LHS responded with its first touchdown, driving 69 yards in six plays with the help of some A.C. Flora penalties. Windham scored on an 11-yard run and passed to Koby Wagner for the 2-point conversion to make it 28-8 with 9:54 left in the game.
Zayveon Wells broke off the final run for the 48-yard score.
The Falcons had two backs go over 100 yards. Pack rushed for 145 yards on nine carries, and Coleman finished with 103 yards on 12 carries.
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