The Lakewood Leopards got off to a hot start to the 2018 football season as they dealt the Patriots of Pender High School a 47-6 loss in the regular season opener.
Starting the game on defense, the Leopards set the tone for the rest of the night. Giving up one first down on the opening drive, the Lakewood defense tightened up and forced the Patriots to punt it away.
Lakewood’s first offensive drive saw some power runs from senior Jahdon Smith who punched it in for the game’s first touchdown. This was the first of four touchdowns for the explosive running back.
Smith’s second touchdown of the game came after a defensive series that was highlighted by a quarterback sack. The score being 14-0 with 5:19 left in the first quarter, Lakewood was just getting started.
A punt return from Travis Crawford scored the third Leopards touchdown with play still in the first quarter. Defense turned into more offense for Lakewood as a fumble recovery from Chris Perez set up the Leopards up in Patriots territory. Capitalizing on the fumble, Smith reached the end zone for his third touchdown. The first quarter came to an end with Lakewood way out in front, 27-0.
A 27-0 lead wasn’t enough for the Leopards as quarterback Jalen Durrett called his own number and took it all the way to the end zone for the first touchdown of the second period. The game firmly in hand, Lakewood and Pender traded punts before Jerquawin Rich scored a 10-yard rushing touchdown with 3:11 reaming in the half.
Lakewood headed into the half in total control with a 40-0 advantage.
After the intermission, and with a running clock, Pender’s defense stepped up their play, only allowing one touchdown the rest of the way. Smith scored the Leopards lone second half touchdown. The third quarter saw the Patriots reach the end zone on a surprise 60-yard touchdown run to bring the games final tally of 47-6.
Friday’s night dominating performance wouldn’t have been possible without some key players.
Smith had 19 touches for 184 yards while Durrett recorded four carries for 49 yards. Rich contributed 26 yards also on four touches.
For the Leopards defense, their standouts included Jaylin Torres’ with four tackles while Trent Tanner, Tavarus Freeman, Elijah Davis, and Derrick Mitchell all recorded a sack each.
After the game, head coach Barrett Sloan noted that continuously improving is key for his Lakewood team.
“We want to get better every week. I think we improved this week,” Sloan said. “We challenged our kids to really improve from what we saw at the jamboree offensively. Our monster numbers offensively tonight is a true testament to our kids coming to work everyday,” he concluded.
With the win, the Leopards are now 1-0 on the young season. They will travel to take on the Titans of Heide Trask High School on Friday, who lost their season opener against Topsail, 28-0.