A very good Lakewood team saw their season end at the hands (and feet) of Alemany quarterback Vernon Adams on Friday night at John Ford Stadium, 42-21.
“He broke a lot of tackles,” said Lakewood coach Thadd MacNeal of Adams. “He’s dynamic. It was either we sacked him or he scrambled for fifteen yards.”
Indeed, the Warriors’ senior started 12/16 for 196 yards and two TDs, but it was his third-quarter scrambles (of 17, 21, and 8 yards) that broke the game open—the second was a TD to make it 35-14 Alemany with 6:48 left.
The first score came at the conclusion of the game’s opening drive, when the snap went over Lakewood punter Cameron Gallegly’s head. He recovered it, but the scramble punt attempt was blocked by Alemany, and scooped by the Warriors’ Deron Smith for the score.
It looked like the shivering crowd in attendance was there to watch a shootout when the Lancers answered less than 90 seconds later, on a 65-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Schultz to Darius Powe to tie the game.
But the Warriors proved their offense was for real on the ensuing drive. On the first third down, Adams hit Shane Drozdowski (one of seven Warriors to catch a ball) for 17 yards for a first down. On third and three later in the drive, he hit sophomore Steven Mitchell for a 22-yard gain, and then capped the drive with a 17-yard touchdown to Drozdowski to take the lead back.
After that, the Lakewood offense stalled as the Warriors front shut down their run game. “They handled us pretty good,” said MacNeal of Alemany’s run defense. “And we weren’t sharp in the passing game—[Alemany] did a great job.”
The Lancers struggled to move the chains, with their next three drives ending on an interception, a punt after gaining just 12 yards, and a three-and-out that saw Lakewood punting on 4th-and-16.
Still, a tenacious Lancers team forced the issue in the first half—down 21-7, Daylon Cason picked off Adams to give his team the ball back at the fifty. Lakewood faced a 4th-and-8, but a fake punt worked to perfection as Dupre Jordan-Roberts caught the pass and rumbled for a 37 yard gain. Schultz scored two plays later on an 8-yard run, to pull within 7.
But the second half—and the third quarter in particular—belonged to Adams. After being sacked on the first play of the Warriors’ opening drive, he scrambled 17 yards on 3rd-and-12, and then hit Jerico Richardson on a 24-yard scoring toss. After Schultz was intercepted three plays into Lakewood’s drive, Adams completed an 18-yard pass, and then ran 21 yards himself into the end zone, giving Alemany a commanding 35-14 lead halfway through the third.
Trailing 42-14, Lakewood put another score on the board with an 8-yard pass from Schultz to sophomore X’avier Shepard, but that was the end of the good news, as Alemany killed the clock and secured a semifinal berth, making this the first time Lakewood won’t reach that round since 2007.
Adams finished with 267 yards of total offense and three scores, as he outgained Lakewood by forty yards. Powe had a phenomenal game, finishing with six catches for 145 yards and the score, but Lakewood gained just 41 yards on the ground. Todd Barr had two of the Lancers’ five sacks in his final game as a Lancer.
“I’m proud of our guys,” said MacNeal of his team’s 10-2 season. “But Alemany’s a good team—they were better than us tonight.”
Congrats to the Lakewood coaches and players on a great season!