In their first three games of the season, the Lakeland Lakers did most of their damage on the ground, pummeling foes into submission with a powerful running attack.
But on a rainy night in Angola this past Friday, Lakeland quarterback William Kelly stung the host Hornets with four touchdown passes in the first 14 minutes of play, leading the Lakers to a 61-14 NECC victory.
“We wanted to throw the ball a little more tonight and because Angola’s defense was crowding the line of scrimmage, we decided to take a couple of shots down field,” said Laker head coach Keith Thompson.
Kelly’s first three scoring strikes were snagged by T.J. Thompson. The duo’s first connection covered 11 yards and came just 3:33 into the contest.
On the first play of the Lakers’ second possession, Kelly hit Thompson at the Hornet 40. The senior receiver broke a tackle and sprinted the rest of the way to paydirt.
After a Cory Troyer nine-yard sweep to the end zone staked Lakeland to a 21-0 lead, Kelly and Thompson worked their magic once again. Grabbing a lofted Kelly aerial at midfield, Thompson outraced the Angola defense to the end zone to complete a 77-yard touchdown play.
“T.J. has worked extremely hard and has endured a lot more yelling from me than anyone,” joked coach Thompson, who also happens to be T.J.’s dad.
Kelly would collect one more touchdown pass to complete a 7-7, 234-yard night. It went to Troyer who, after making a shoe-top catch of a low throw at the 40, eluded a number of would-be Hornet tacklers on his way to the end zone. The 47-yard scoring play gave the Lakers a 41-0 halftime bulge.
“That was a great read by both William (Kelly) and Cory (Troyer),” said Thompson of the last score of the half. “Angola left Cory alone in our ‘trips’ formation and they both recognized it.”
While the passing game produced the spectacular, Lakeland also hurt the Hornets with its bread-and-butter rushing attack, piling up 309 yards on 47 carries. Troyer tacked on a pair of eight-yard touchdown runs to his ledger and Joey Fuller, who led the rushing chart with 91 yards, found paydirt from seven yards.
“We had a great effort from our offense, our defense and special teams. You’re going to win most games when you do that,” Thompson cited.
Nick Attkisson topped the Lakeland tackle chart with 5.5 stops. Thomas Roebel made four tackles and Chris Leary pounced on two Angola fumbles.
A.J. Hocker was the lone bright spot for Angola. Hocker scored both Hornet touchdowns on runs of three and 20 yards.
Lakeland, now 4-0 overall and in the NECC, hosts winless West Noble this Friday at 7 p.m.
Scoring by quarters
LL 28 13 13 7 -61
AN 0 0 0 14 -14
LL—T.J. Thompson 11-yard pass from William Kelly, Marco Olivares kick (8:27)
LL—Thompson 61-yard pass from Kelly, Olivares kick (6:22)
LL—Cory Troyer eight-yard run, Olivares kick (3:28)
LL—Thompson 77-yard pass from Kelly, Olivares kick (0:50)
LL—Joey Fuller seven-yard run, Olivares kick (8:03)
LL—Troyer 47-yard pass from Kelly, kick blocked (2:13)
LL—Troyer eight-yard run, Olivares kick (10:54)
LL—Taylor Raatz four-yard run, Olivares kick (4:50)
AN—A.J. Hocker three-yard run, Spencer Stites kick (9:12)
AN—Hocker 20-yard run, Stites kick (6:32)
LL—Thomas Roebel eight-yard run, Olivares kick (4:21)
First Downs 23 12
Rushing Yards 309 91
Passing Yards 234 103
Total Yards 543 194
Total Plays 54 47
Turnovers 2 3
Penalties 5-45 4-23
LL—Fuller 16-91; Troyer 8-70; Roebel 5-68; Raatz 4-53; Aldrich 3-18; Collyer 1-8; Barker 2-7; Torres 2-3; Lozano 2-0; Kelly 4-(-9)
AN—Hocker 10-57; Belcher 4-21; Gardner 6-8; Warner 2-7; Zvirblis 1-0; Honer 1-0; Boots 2-(-1); Clark 5-(-1)
LL-- Kelly 7-7, 234
AN—Boots 7-15, 89; Lynch 1-1, 14
LL—Thompson 4-160; Troyer 2-60; Aldrich 1-14
AN—Oberlin 4-34; Bauer 2-41; Gardner 1-14; Hocker 1-14
LL—Attikisson 5.5; Roebel 4.0; Leary 3.5; Petty 3.0, Eagleson 3.0
AN—Zvirblis 7.5; Oberlin 4.5; Spears 4.0; Rasey 3.0