Lakeland edges Presidents in opener

Published 11:17 pm Friday, September 4, 2009

It didn’t take long to figure out Friday’s season opener between Lakeland and Wilson would be anything but normal.

In addition to the malfunctioning clock, those attending witnessed unusual plays, kickoff returns for touchdowns, awkward fumbles and a hard-fought struggle between two teams hoping to start their 2009 seasons off right.

Although Lakeland ended up the night with a 20-17 victory, it was not what Cavalier coaches were expecting from the visiting Wilson Presidents.

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“You have to hand it to Wilson tonight,” Cavalier head coach Glenwood Ferebee said. “They came in here tonight and really took it to us. But, our kids really responded and showed me and the rest of the coaches a lot.”

Lakeland trailed or was tied with Wilson the entire game up until a quick, powerful drive with just over eight minutes to play gave the Cavaliers the lead.

On third down and eight to go, on their 29 yard line, Cavalier quarterback Walter Boykins scrambled away from the President defense and found an open Donavan Wright down the right sideline for a 46-yard gain. On the very next play, Cedric Johnson took the direct snap from center and then raced up the middle, breaking three tackles, for a 25-yard touchdown run with 8:30 remaining in the game.

The extra point attempt failed, giving the Cavaliers their first lead of the game at 20-17.

It was then the responsibility of the Lakeland defense to hold the lead and hold it they did.

Over the last 16 plays of the game, the Cavalier defense held Wilson to just 23 yards. Those plays included two quarterback sacks by Lakeland strong safety Denzel Brown that helped to keep the President offense pinned in their own side of the field.

“I think God was really testing our kids tonight to see how they would respond,” Ferebee said. “Last year, this is the type of game we would have lost. The kids felt they were ready for a game like this last year, but they weren’t. They showed tonight they are prepared to win these types of games when things are not going their way.”

After falling behind 7-0 early in the second quarter, the Cavaliers were able to tie the game up at seven, when Johnson scored his first touchdown of the game, also on a direct snap from center.

The extra point attempt by Evan Worley was good, tying the game.

On the ensuing kickoff, Wilson’s Hakeem Swann broke through the Cavalier defense for a 92-yard touchdown return, regaining the Presidents’ lead.

After a solid kickoff return of their own, the Cavaliers responded by going 30 yards in seven plays for a tying touchdown when Boykins found Tyquan Lewis in the endzone for a 16-yard score. Worley added the extra point, knotting the game at 14.

Wilson would regain the lead on their third possession of the second half when they capped off a 45-yard scoring drive with a 30-yard field goal by Nicholas Missling.

Lakeland generated 167 yards of offense, but it was the Cavalier defense that truly stood out, allowing just 74 yards of offense on the part of the Presidents.

Johnson led all rushers with 69 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns. Boykins finished the game, going 6-for-11 for 91 yards and one touchdown.

The Cavaliers (1-0) will next take on in-city rival Nansemond River (0-1) at Arrowhead Stadium next Friday night.