Grizzlies feast on Lakeland miscues

Published 11:36 pm Friday, November 6, 2009

Lakeland put together two long touchdown drives late in Friday night’s regular season finale against visiting Grassfield, but the Cavaliers couldn’t come all the way back from a 19-0 deficit and the Grizzlies won 26-15, dealing a potentially crippling blow to Lakeland’s playoff hopes.

Lakeland (6-4) outgained the Grizzlies (8-2) 151-78 through the air and 173-69 on the ground, but four Lakeland turnovers and 12 Lakeland penalties, compared to zero and two in those respective categories for Grassfield, took away Lakeland drives and gave Grassfield good field position for much of the night.

After forcing a Lakeland punt to start the game, the Grizzlies started on their own 47 and quarterback Tyler Clark led a steady drive down the field. Clark ran twice for first downs and a Lakeland penalty gave the Grizzlies another first down.

Clark capped the drive with a 12-yard pass to tight end Kousan Dixon. Lakeland blocked the extra point, leaving the score 6-0 Grizzlies.

A 44-yard run by Cedric Johnson highlighted Lakeland’s ensuing possession. The drive stalled inside the Grassfield 20 though and a 35-yard field goal attempt by Evan Worley was blocked.

The next Cavalier possession, starting on the Lakeland 15, showed promise again. Johnson carried on four straight plays before a 33-yard run by fullback Kavis Shephard. Again, the Grassfield defense tightened and forced Lakeland into a 4th-and-2 play at the Grizzly 30. A false start penalty made it 4th-and-7 and an incomplete pass ended the possession.

Grassfield scored a touchdown on its ensuing possession and added a 23-yard field goal with 1:16 left before halftime. Grassfield led 16-0 at the half.

A fumbled handoff on Lakeland’s second play from scrimmage in the second half gave the Grizzlies the ball on the Lakeland 11. The turnover led to a 32-yard field goal that made it 19-0 Grassfield.

On the next possession, Lakeland’s offense put together another good drive and finally finished it.

The Cavs moved down the field mostly thanks to a 21-yard pass from Walter Boykins to Jaquan Demiel and a 22-yard pass on a 4th-and-4 play at the Grassfield 29 from Boykins to Donavan Wright. Johnson carried the ball in from five yards out and a Worley kick made it 19-7 with 1:28 left in the third period.

Lakeland’s defense turned in stops on the next two Grassfield possessions to keep the Cavs in shouting distance, but midway through the fourth period, the Cavaliers faced a 4th-and-1 play on their own 20 and Boykins threw his second interception of the night. The interception and return by linebacker Isaiah Twitty gave Grassfield the ball on the Cavalier 3.

On the first play from the 3, Lakeland thought they had a fumble and recovery on a Grizzly run up the middle, but the officials ruled the play over before the fumble.

The Grizzlies scored on the next snap and took a 26-7 lead with 5:02 left.

Lakeland added a touchdown, moving 92 yards to do it. Boykins fired a pass over the middle and Wright went up to get it in the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown catch. The long drive took nearly four minutes off the clock though.

Lakeland recovered the ensuing onsides kick, even though a Grassfield player got up and ran toward his sideline with the ball.

Then in an even more curious call in the final few seconds, on a deep pass by Boykins into the end zone, intended for Demiel, Demiel was knocked down before the ball arrived, a second Grizzly player caught the pass and the official nearest the play initially called an incomplete pass.

After a meeting by the referees, an interception was the call. Three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties followed against the Cavaliers before the Grizzlies could kneel on the ball to end the game.

In what could be his last game as a Cavalier, Johnson finished with 27 carries for 173 yards. Boykins was 11-for-17 passing for 151 yards and three interceptions. Anaquan Peterson caught five passes for 39 yards. Wright had three catches for 46 yards.

Lakeland came into Friday evening in the final spot, No. 8, in the Eastern Region, Div. 5 playoff standings. No. 9 Booker T. Washington lost to Norcom 38-14. No. 10 Warwick plays Kecoughtan on Saturday afternoon. No. 11 Green Run completed its regular season last Friday.

If Lakeland holds on to the No. 8 spot in the power ratings, a game at defending state champion Phoebus (10-0) would be the first round pairing for the Cavaliers.