The Lakeland Lakers used a punishing rushing attack to finally subdue a pesky Eastside squad, 37-21 in NECC football play last Friday night in Butler.
With the victory, coach Keith Thompson’s ninth-ranked (in Class 3A) Lakers improved to 6-0 overall and in the conference heading into this week’s showdown against fellow unbeaten Fairfield in LaGrange.
Cory Troyer, who along with Taylor Raatz led the Lakeland ground assault with 142 yards each, sprinted 55 yards for the game’s first touchdown at the 6:01 mark of the opening period. But less than two minutes later, Blazer quarterback Blake Blaker connected on a 60-yard scoring strike to P.J. Dean to tie the count at 7-all.
Blaker, who finished the tilt 17-30 through the air for 309 yards, put the hosts ahead, 14-7 five minutes into the second quarter when he found Colin Dove for a two-yard touchdown toss.
But the Blazer lead was short-lived. Devin Dimos, making his first appearance for the Lakers after sitting out the opening five games due to injury, bolted into the end zone from eight yards out to knot the score again at 14-14.
Eastside then fumbled away the ensuing kickoff at its own 42. On the next play, Raatz raced to paydirt to give the Lakers a 21-14 halftime advantage.
Lakeland upped its lead to 30-14 by the end of the third period on a 23-yard field goal by Marco Olivares and a three-yard touchdown plunge by Joey Fuller. Troyer’s second touchdown of the night – a seven-yard jaunt with 3:42 left in the fourth quarter – increased the Laker edge to 37-14.
Blaker capped off his fine passing effort by hitting Kadis Renier for an eight-yard touchdown with 2:44 to play.
Fuller backed up Troyer and Raatz on the Lakeland rushing chart with 99 yards on 19 totes. Quarterback William Kelly completed three passes, including two to T.J. Thompson covering 29 yards.
Troyer and Logan Owens each made five tackles to top the Laker defense. Dimos, Savan Patel and Evan Garretson all recovered Eastside fumbles.
Scoring by quarters
LL 7 14 9 7 -37
ES 7 7 0 7 -21
LL—Cory Troyer 55-yard run, Marco Olivares kick (6:01)
ES—P.J. Dean 60-yard pass from Blake Blaker, Kyle Franz kick (4:22)
ES—Colin Dove two-yard pass from Blaker, Franz kick (7:21)
LL—Devin Dimos eight-yard run, Olivares kick (5:22)
LL—Taylor Raatz 42-yard run, Olivares kick (5:02)
LL—Olivares 23-yard field goal (6:20)
LL—Joey Fuller three-yard run, kick blocked (3:30)
LL—Troyer seven-yard run, Olivares kick (3:42)
ES—Kadis Renier eight-yard pass from Blaker, Franz kick (2:44)
First Downs 26 15
Rushing Yds. 416 9
Passing Yds. 31 309
Total Yards 447 318
Total Plays 69 52
Turnovers 2 3
Penalties 14-120 12-116
LL—Raatz 10-142; Troyer 17-142; J. Fuller 19-99; Aldrich 3-15; Dimos 2-13; Kelly 5-5; Hunter 1-0
ES—Dean 1-9; Renier 8-4; Blaker 13-(-4)
LL—Kelly 3-12, 31
ES—Blaker 17-30, 209
LL—Thompson 2-29; Owens 1-2
ES—Dean 6-185; Dove 5-55; Lockhart 3-58; Renier 3-11
LL—Troyer 5.0; Owens 5.0; Aldrich 3.5; Dimos 3.0; Garretson 2.5; Moore 2.5
ES—Beard 13.5; Hoeppner 6.0; Talik 6.0; Davis 5.5; Blaker 4.0