The Lakewood Leopards kicked off their postseason with a bang, shutting out the Gators of Spring Creek on a chilly November night. Lakewood scored at will and took control of the game early on Friday, defeating the Gators 42-0 and posting their second shutout in three games and their fourth of the season.
The undermanned Gators simply could not keep up with the talented Leopards’ squad, a problem they faced earlier in the season when they squared off against Lakewood. In that matchup, Lakewood crushed them 29-0.
Friday night, the Gators tried to play the revenge card and upset the top-seeded Leopards, but were embarrassed and beaten handily. Lakewood put the game away early, starting with a Dre Oates run around the outside for an 8-yard score with just under nine minutes to play in the first quarter. The extra point was successful, and the Leopards jumped to an early 7-0 lead.
The game was very noncompetitive thereafter, with Oates scoring again with an incredible run that involved him switching from the left side of the field to the right, and ultimately outracing the defenders for a score. The point after pushed the lead to 14-0 deep in the first quarter.
Lakewood got their points from a variety of players, even those from special teams, as a shanked punt only went a few yards, resulting in an easy touchdown by Dylan Ivey, much to the pleasure of his teammates.
Running back Keshon Bailey also got his chance to participate in the touchdown party with a TD of his own — a 1-yard plunge — and then his fellow teammate Jahon Smith punched it in from 8 yards out as well.
After completely dominating the first 24 minutes of the game, the Leopards led 35-0 at halftime. They mostly took it easy in the final half, giving backups playing time and resting most of their starters.
Lakewood head coach James Lewis was thrilled at how his guys played in the victory. “We are all on the same page, our defense and our offense both played well.” Lewis noted. Additionally, the coach credited his defense for their stellar play Friday night. “Our defense played outstanding; I don’t even think they (Spring Creek) even threatened to score.” He added.
Spring Creek head coach Aaron Sanders was unavailable for comment after the loss. His team concludes the season with a 3-9 overall record and 2-4 in conference play. The Gators will look to have a strong off season in hopes of making the playoffs again.
Lakewood improves to 9-3 with the win and 5-1 in conference play. They will use this coming week in preparation for a showdown at home against the fifth-seeded Princeton Bulldogs, a team they defeated 48-14 earlier in the season. Princeton advanced with a win against Riverside in what turned out to be a shootout with a final score of 70-64.
Offensively for Lakewood, Carsell Bennett led the Leopards with 44 yards on 7 carries with a touchdown; Quamaine Williams came in with 35 yards on 5 carries; Akili Underwood had 21 yards on 1 carry; Dre Oates had 21 yards rushing on 2 carries to go along with 2 touchdowns; Harold Faison had 15 yards on 2carries as well as a touchdown; Zach Tanner raked in 7 yards on 1 carry; Jameek Johnson had 5 carries for a yard, and Keshon Bailey had 5 carries for a yard as well, to go along with a touchdown. As for passing, Tanner completed all 4 catches for 111 yards, with 42 of those yards going to William Peete on 2 catches, 24 yards going to Camron Sessoms on 1 catch, and 45 yards going to Johnny Owens on 1 catch.
Defensively for the Leopards, Tristan Hawks and Jahan Smith paved the way with 4 tackles each, Luke Brewer came in with 3 tackles, Quamaine Williams had a tackle and an interception, and Deandre Rich had an interception.
As for the Gators, Michael O’Hara had 12 yards on 2 touches, and Jamaal Davis had 4 yards on 3 carries. Quarterback Landon Smothers tossed for 118 yards with an interception on 26 attempts with 10 of those going for completions. His top receivers were DaQuan Bynum with 39 yards on 1 catch, Allen Hickman with 22 yards on 2 catches, Ellis Hatcher, who had 15 yards on a catch, Najee Young, who had 11 yards on 3 grabs, Javon Newsome had 10 yards on 2 catches, and Jessie Casper wrapped it up with two yards on a catch.