Tigers survive Cavalier challenge

Published 11:43 pm Friday, September 30, 2011

Lakeland’s Antonio Jefferson intercepted two passes and rushed for 38 yards as Oscar Smith Friday night. Oscar Smith took its Southeastern District winning streak to 41 games with a 21-7 win over the Cavaliers (4-1, 3-1).

CHESAPEAKE — Lakeland came within two yards, one more stride by Raekwon Johnson, of scoring what could’ve been a tying or go-ahead touchdown with less than four minutes to play at seven-time defending Southeastern District champion Oscar Smith Friday night.

Following the second lightning delay of the night, Oscar Smith senior and soon-to-be Virginia Tech running back J.C. Coleman broke away for an 85-yard touchdown run to seal a 21-7 Tiger victory.

Oscar Smith (4-1, 4-0) remains unbeaten in the district, now with 41 straight Southeastern wins, while it was the first Cavalier (4-1, 3-1) loss of the season.

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The Cavalier defense led the way in the upset bid. The Cavaliers intercepted three Tiger passes in the first half and recovered a fumble in the second half for a fourth Oscar Smith turnover.

The one way the usually potent Tiger offense hurt the Cavaliers throughout the contest was with Coleman’s speed.

The first two Tiger possessions ended in interceptions. Antonio Jefferson intercepted an errant pass by J.J. Williamson and returned it 25 yards to the Tiger 34.

The Cavaliers, with Johnson at quarterback for the third straight game, gained two first downs. A poor shotgun snap on second-and-goal hurt the drive. Lakeland settled for a 20-yard field goal try, but Evan Worley missed the kick wide left.

The Tigers drove into the Cavalier red zone before Kyle Jones brought down Coleman in the backfield. On a 2nd-and-14 play, the Cavs brought pressure on Williamson, who fired a deep ball to the end zone where Derrick Edghill intercepted it.

The Tigers returned the favor three snaps later, and their interception put them on the Lakeland 15. Coleman raced around the left end for a 9-yard touchdown with 1:28 left in the first period.

Jefferson’s second interception of the night stopped the next Tiger possession. Despite starting on the Tiger 30, Lakeland’s offense couldn’t capitalize.

The Cavs tied the game in the final seconds of the half. Starting a possession on the Tiger 46, the Cavs needed a 16-yard scramble by Johnson on a 3rd-and-16, then a Johnson-to-Edghill completion for 16 yards down to the Tiger 3.

Johnson hit Anaquan Peterson slanting through the middle of the end zone with 0:05 left. Worley’s point after made it 7-7. The touchdown gave the Cavaliers all sorts of confidence leaving the field at halftime.

Halftime though took one hour and 25 minutes, thanks to a lightning delay.

The teams traded possessions, and lots of flags against both sides, until late in the third period.

The Tigers, mostly with Coleman carrying the ball, drove 88 yards. Lakeland forced the Tigers into 4th-and-12 at the Cavalier 23 only for Williamson to scramble, heave a pass high toward the right side of the endzone and a Tiger receiver to come down with it for the touchdown.

Still down by seven, the Cavaliers turned in their own long drive to come within a hair of matching the Tigers.

Johnson scrambled on a 3rd-and-11 play and would’ve been short until a flag against the Tigers for a horse collar tackle, giving the Cavs a first down on the Tiger 35.

Jefferson raced 15 yards on the next snap. Facing 4th-and-1 on the Tiger 9, Johnson rammed through the middle of the line for three yards.

Back-to-back sacks, although with an unsportsmanlike-conduct flag against the Tigers in between, left the Cavaliers with 4th-and-goal on the 10.

Johnson looked to pass, then scrambled out to the right. He was tripped from behind, dove for the line and was ruled to have his knee go down on the Tiger 2, to all sorts of protests from the Lakeland sideline and stands.

With 3:30 left in the game, another lightning delay stopped play. This one lasted 30 minutes.

When play resumed, the Tigers ground out one first down before Coleman’s 85-yard touchdown put the game away. Coleman finished with 243 rushing yards. Lakeland held the Tigers to 5-for-12 passing for 51 yards and three interceptions.

The Cavaliers go on to host King’s Fork on Friday at 7 p.m.