The Lakeland Lakers took the biggest step to date in their quest to secure the 2012 NECC football championship last Friday night in LaGrange when they romped past previously undefeated Fairfield, 48-29.
Coach Keith Thompson’s squad raised their league and overall records to 7-0 with the victory. All Lakeland needs to claim the outright conference title is a win October 12 at Churubusco.
“The kids were pretty jazzed up all week for this game and they came out and played hard,” said Thompson. “We had not faced a lot of adversity this season and Fairfield, with their speed, can create some big plays. I was pleased to see the way we responded each time Fairfield scored.”
Lakeland marched 84 yards in eight plays the first time it touched the ball. William Kelly’s 33-yard pass to T.J. Thompson brought the ball into Fairfield territory. Joey Fuller then capped the drive with a three-yard touchdown burst.
Fairfield knotted the count at 7-all late in the first quarter after pouncing on a Laker fumble. Cameron Kitson accounted for the Falcon touchdown on a 12-yard run.
Back came the Lakers in the second quarter to score twice in the first six minutes to take a 21-7 lead. Cory Troyer tallied both of the touchdowns on scampers of 22 and 11 yards.
Lakeland was looking to pad its lead even further just before halftime when Jordan Aldrich ripped the ball loose from Fairfield quarterback Garrett Scott near midfield. Instead it was the Falcons who would draw last blood of the second period. After forcing a Laker punt, Scott found Kitson with a pass at the 35. Kitson dodged a would-be tackler then outraced the Lakeland defense to the end zone to complete the 77-yard touchdown play which cut the Laker edge to 21-14.
“We gave them a cheap one there at the end of the first half,” said Thompson.
The Lakers turned two Falcon turnovers into touchdowns midway through the third quarter to extend their lead to 35-14. Devin Dimos picked off a Scott pass at the Fairfield 24 and returned to paydirt.
On the Falcons next snap from center, Scott coughed up the ball on a hit by Logan Owens and Kyle Casper recovered the fumble at the 17. Three plays later, Troyer bolted five yards for a score.
Both teams tallied before the third period was over – Fairfield on a 14-yard pass from Scott to Caleb Noble and Lakeland on a 37-yard hookup between William Kelly and Troyer – to bring the score to 42-22. In the fourth quarter, Fuller notched his second touchdown of the night on an eight-yard jaunt and Scott passed 16 yards to Noble for a Falcon score.
Fuller spearheaded a 322-yard Laker rushing attack with 177 yards on 19 carries. Troyer chipped in 118 yards on 14 attempts.
Kelly finished 12-16 through the air for 241 yards. Owens, Troyer and Thompson each caught four passes for 124, 63 and 54 yards, respectively.
Scott also completed a dozen aerials for 211 yards. Kitson snared five of Scott’s completions for a total of 143 yards.
Lakeland hosts Fort Wayne Concordia this Friday in its annual Homecoming Game. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Scoring by quarters
FF 7 7 8 7 -29
LL 7 14 21 6 -48
LL—Joey Fuller three-yard run, Marco Olivares kick (7:59)
FF—Cameron Kitson 12-yard run, Eldon Burtsfield kick (1:23)
LL-- Cory Troyer 22-yard run, Olivares kick (9:57
LL—Troyer 11-yard run, Olivares kick (6:11)
FF—Kitson 77-yard pass from Scott, Burtsfield kick (1:57)
LL-- Devin Dimos 24-yard pass interception return, Olivares kick
LL—Troyer five-yard run, Olivares kick (6:08)
FF—Caleb Noble 14-yard pass from Scott, Kyle Ostrander conversion run (3:23)
LL—Troyer 38-yard pass from William Kelly, Olivares kick (1:26)
LL—Fuller eight-yard run, kick blocked (6:25)
FF—Noble 16-yard pass from Scott, Burtsfield kick (0:10)
First Downs 14 25
Rushing Yards 23 322
Passing Yards 222 241
Total Yards 245 563
Total Plays 55 69
Turnovers 4 2
Penalties 5-45 8-86
FF—Ostrander 9-31; Kitson 5-10; Garris 1-2; Scott 8-(-20)
LL—Fuller 19-177; Troyer 14-118; Dimos 5-44; Aldrich 1-2; Petty 1-2; Raatz 6-0; Roebel 2-(-3); Kelly 4-(-18)
FF—Scott 12-31, 211; Garris 1-1, 11
LL—Kelly 12-16, 241; Troyer 0-1, 0
FF—Kitson 5-143; Noble 2-43; Baumgartner 2-17; Scott 1-11; Bartley 1-8
LL—Owens 4-124; Troyer 4-63; Thompson 4-54
FF—A. Mast 10; K. Mast 8; Johnson 7; Baumgartner 5; Scott 4.5
LL—Owens 5; Faust 3.5; Attkisson 2.5; Weber 2.5