Lakeland trumps Warriors

Published 12:27am Saturday, November 3, 2012

From a sea of turnovers and miscues on both sides, Lakeland emerged victorious on its Senior Night by a score of 14-9 over visiting Nansemond River.

Two words that Cavaliers’ head coach Glenwood Ferebee used to sum up the game were “ugly” and “snaps.”

Lakeland senior wide receiver Antonio Jefferson runs a route against the stingy Nansemond River defense in the Cavaliers' 14-9 home victory on Senior Night. Jefferson had an 11-yard touchdown catch and a game-clinching goal-line interception with 31 seconds remaining in the contest.

“We had to switch the center out in the middle of the game,” he explained.

This led to a myriad of bad snaps that resulted in much lost yardage for Lakeland.

“But we weathered the storm, and we’ll take the win,” Ferebee said.

With a win tonight and a little help in other match-ups, the Warriors would have joined Lakeland and King’s Fork in the playoffs. The loss, however, eliminated them.

Still, it was the Warriors (5-5, 4-5) that came out and stunned the Lakeland home crowd when senior linebacker Charles Drake intercepted Cavaliers’ senior quarterback Zach Super and returned it 57 yards for the game’s opening score.

Less than a minute later, NR sophomore defensive linemen Leonard Floyd intercepted Super, but they were not able to capitalize.

At the beginning of the second quarter, Lakeland was backed up in its own territory. Another bad snap resulted in a safety when Super was forced to bat it out of the back of the end zone.

Lakeland’s difficulty stemmed from the absence mid-game of junior center DKente White. White was injured early in the season, and Ferebee indicated that while White is healthy, he still lacks the strength to carry through a whole game.

This was not a problem the Cavaliers were counting on, which meant senior offensive guard Chris Rodgers found himself playing center with little-to-no practice.

“Chris Rodgers started at right linebacker, so he had to run off in the middle of (playing) defense to get some practice snaps in,” Ferebee said.

The Warriors took their 9-0 lead into halftime. Ferebee related that last year, the Warriors beat Lakeland in the season finale, forcing the Cavs to hit the road for the playoffs. Consequently, he sent a strong message to his team this year.

“We wanted a home game in front of our home crowd, first time ever in school history,” he said. “So, at halftime, that’s what I told them. I said, ‘We can go somewhere else and play or we can play here. You let me know what you want to do. Do you want to tuck the season away and quit and get ready for basketball season? Let me know, because we can go out here and lay down. We won’t practice next week. We’ll just show up Friday and play. But that’s up to you guys. We’ve been in this position before, last year, and they spoiled it for us. By the way y’all playing, y’all are going to let them spoil it again.’”

Though miscues persisted in the second half, they got the message. Super had several blocked and tipped passes in the first half, but found senior wide receiver Antonio Jefferson on an 11-yard touchdown pass with 9:39 to go in the third quarter.

“In the second half we started killing them because we started coming through, and we just started coming together,” Super said. “That was a tough team.”

Then, the Lakeland defense began to really assert itself. Freshman linebacker Jaquan Yulee blocked a Warriors punt, setting the offense up on NR’s 5-yard line. Senior running back Raekwon Johnson ran it in for the deciding score.

Nansemond River was limited to 97 yards of total offense, all on the ground, and going 0 for 9 in passing with three inceptions. The picks were made by sophomore defensive back Convon’Tra Revell, senior Derrick Edghill, and Jefferson stopped NR’s last-minute drive with a pick in the end zone with 31 seconds remaining.

“We just made too many mistakes, and that’s the difference of the football game,” Warriors head coach Tracey Parker Sr. said.

Though still dependent on the results of other pending match-ups, Lakeland (7-3, 6-3) is expected to play King’s Fork (7-3, 6-3) in the division 5 regional quarterfinals next Friday night.

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