All the preseason work and preseason talk couldn't prevent Lakeside's season-opening train wreck.
Lakeside defenders John Arena and Jay Krenz force a Washington-Wilkes fumble during Friday's game. There were 14 fumbles in the game - most by Lakeside.
Photo by Barry Paschal
The Panthers lost five of their 10 fumbles in a 20-10 defeat to Washington-Wilkes at Panthers Stadium.
"One thing we've stressed hard this year that we've got to get back to is animal control," Lakeside coach Randy Hill said. "We've got to control the pigskin, control the football. You've got to have possession of it to be able to move the ball."
Lakeside's triple-option attack scratched out 67 rushing yards on 32 attempts. Quarterback Chris Drayton led the team with 18 rushing yards, along with a 2-for-7 passing performance for 25 yards.
"We've got to get our offense moving, and we know that," Hill said. "We were a little shaky in scrimmages, not advancing the ball well."
Lakeside's (0-1) first turnover proved to be costly.
On the second play from scrimmage, Demont Gresham recovered a Chadd Thomas fumble in midair and returned it 36 yards to the Lakeside 7-yard line.
Three plays later, the Tigers benefited from a little luck. A Lakeside defender tipped a pass by Clete Wilson on the third down. The ball then deflected off tight end Khiry Tutt and into the arms of Gresham in the end zone.
"We don't work on bouncing it off the helmet, but we'll take it when it happens," Washington-Wilkes coach Russell Morgan said.
Drayton ignited the Panthers' triple-option offense with runs of 15 and 8 to start the second drive. Lakeside moved the ball 47 yards in three plays and faced first and 10 from the Washington-Wilkes' 25-yard line.
Morgan called time out with 8:39 left in the first quarter.
"We were just trying to get kids to play disciplined football," Morgan said. "Against the option, you've got to play assignment football. After that, we played really well, defensively."
Washington-Wilkes (1-0) allowed just 30 rushing yards on 27 attempts the rest of the way.
Drayton did find the end zone, however. After Mark Tench's 42-yard field goal attempt came out low and hit the line, Travis Azar scooped up the ball and pitched it to Drayton. The Panther safety went 75 yards untouched, pulling Lakeside within 3.
It wasn't enough for the Panthers' sluggish offense.
Washington-Wilkes running back Jareon Small finished off Lakeside. He broke three tackles en route to a game-breaking 44-yard touchdown with 3:02 remaining.
The Tigers rushed 38 times for 160 yards, more than half the yardage coming on two long runs. The Tigers recorded five first downs and committed eight penalties for 53 yards.
"You expect to make some mistakes. It's early," Morgan said. "And they did a good job defensively. They gave us fits."
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