Lakeland its own worst enemy in 21-0 loss

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 25, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

After Friday night’s game at Cavalier Park at Lakeland, the scoreboard read &uot;Indian River 21, Lakeland 0.&uot; A more accurate reading, however, would have been &uot;Lakeland 21, Lakeland 0.&uot;

On its Homecoming Night, the Cavalier defense turned in arguably its finest performance of the season, repeatedly frustrating and fighting off nearly every Brave attack. But in the end, the Cavaliers were their own worst enemies, victimized repeatedly by penalties and a lack of clutch performance.

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With 5:55 to go in the first quarter, the Cavaliers got the ball at midfield. Mike Parker was knocked back four yards on first down, then caught a pass from Eric Ruffin at the original line of scrimmage on second. Ruffin faded toward the right sideline, then doubled back toward the left. Spying Parker far downfield, he hurled the ball high into the sky, and it came down into Parker’s hands at the Brave 16. Reggie Banks carried for five yards and caught an eight-yard strike at the three.

Banks was stopped for no gain on first down, and plunged to the one on second. On third, Ruffin was nearly sacked in the backfield, but he

hit Banks at the three.

Lakeland elected to kick a field goal, but the Braves were whistled for illegal motion, pushing the ball back to the one. Banks was stopped again, and Lakeland walked away empty-handed.

The Cavalier defense got the ball back with 10:12 to play, and Ruffin tossed a bull’s-eye pass to Chase Nelson, who fought off two defenders and caught the pass just inbounds at the Brave one-yard-line. But Lakeland was called for having an illegal man downfield, and was forced to punt.

Brandon Ore carried for 49 yards over the next two plays, and Lloyd Parker passed to Antoine Page at the Lakeland 32. Ore rushed to the 26, but the Cavalier defense held, allowing just three yards on the next two plays.

On third down, Parker faded back, and threw a pass to Page near the 20. The pass fell short, but Lakeland was called for pass interference, giving River a first down at the 11. Parker himself ran the ball in on the next play, giving River a 7-0 halftime lead.

Bad luck continued to torment Lakeland in the second half. On second-and-seven at the River 48, Parker hurled a pass that went far over his receiver’s head and out of bounds. But the officials ruled that Lakeland had committed pass interference, giving the Braves a first down at the Lakeland 25. Parker tossed to Learie Holder at the 15, and Ore carried to the five. Parker tossed to John Ford in the endzone, doubling the lead to 14-0.

The Cavaliers appeared to have gotten their first real breaks of the night as the fourth quarter ended, as Ramon Faltz scooped up a Brave fumble and a pass interference penalty gave Lakeland its first first down of the half at midfield. But a holding penalty knocked the Cavaliers back 10 yards, and Ruffin misfired on third down, forcing a punt.

Once again, the Cavalier defense held on, and got the ball at midfield. On second down, however, Adam Blount yanked the ball away from a Cavalier receiver and ran it back to the 11. Ore scored on the next play to complete the scoring. Lakeland will visit Deep Creek next Friday.

Nansemond River was also unsuccessful Friday, falling 41-7 to visiting Western Branch, the Southeastern District’s top-ranked squad. Trayce McPherson scored for River, which will visit Hickory next Friday.