Warriors prove buoyant in Lakeland

Published 11:36 pm Friday, October 3, 2014

Nansemond River High School senior defensive back Antonio Sims returns an interception on Friday night as senior wideout Isaiah Williams of host Lakeland High School tries to stop him.

Nansemond River High School senior defensive back Antonio Sims returns an interception on Friday night as senior wideout Isaiah Williams of host Lakeland High School tries to stop him.

There had been a few signs pointing to the possibility that host Lakeland High School would have a good night on Friday. Nansemond River High School turned those signs on their heads.

The Cavaliers played host Indian River High School close a few weeks back, making the Braves fight for points as the home team only won by three points.

The Warriors were coming off of two straight home losses, the most recent of which was a 43-21 blowout to the Braves, but it was Nansemond River that made its opponent fight for points last night.

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It was a fight Lakeland never won, falling 24-0.

NR coach David Coccoli said rebounding and getting the win felt good, but added, “I’m more excited about the way the kids played. I thought we played really well on defense. (The Cavaliers) only had three first downs.”

Highlighting Nansemond River’s youth this year, Coccoli said, “We started four sophomores tonight on defense.”

They all played at linebacker — Dia Gray, Henry Moreno and new starters John Carter and Diquan McGee, the latter of which had an interception.

“I’m very proud of the way those young kids played,” Coccoli said.

He said he simplified the system on defense this week, and the Warriors had some great practices on Monday and Tuesday in preparation.

After the game, Lakeland coach Bryan Potts said, “We just got our butts straight handed to us.”

He said the Cavs committed too many turnovers. The tally ended up at four for the game, three of which led to 17 of Nansemond River’s points.

A Cavaliers fumble in the first quarter gave way to a 50-yard Warriors drive that culminated in a seven-yard touchdown run by junior running back Terrence Lambert.

Nansemond River senior defensive back Antonio Sims intercepted Lakeland in the second quarter, setting up a 26-yard field goal by freshman Evan Lomax that made it 10-0 at halftime.

“Defensively, we were on the field too much,” Potts said, noting a fact that was particularly true in the second half.

The Warriors started one drive with 8:06 left in the third quarter. The run game and offensive penalties that NR was able to make up for chewed up the clock. When the Warriors finally went up 17-0 on a one-yard run by senior quarterback DeShon Saunders, 9:22 remained in the fourth quarter.

A Lakeland fumble shortly thereafter gave Nansemond River great field position at the Cavs’ 26-yard line, and Lambert finished the drive with a six-yard touchdown run.

Ahead of Friday’s game, Lambert was motivated by a story that noted how a prior opponent said it was going to contain him.

He said he went up against the Cavaliers with the thought, “Only I can stop myself, so I was like, ‘Well, they’re not going to stop me.’”

Lambert ended up with 24 carries for 122 yards and two touchdowns.

While Nansemond River did not play Indian River nearly as well as Lakeland, Lambert said his team gained the advantage against the Cavs by being aggressive the whole four quarters, benefiting from rigorous conditioning during the week.

“It’s a good win,” DeShon Saunders said. “We played it like a playoff game, and I appreciated that.”

Saunders had 12 carries for 41 yards and a touchdown. Junior running back Larry Goodman added five carries for 35 yards, and junior running back Jonas Jones had seven carries for 25 yards.

The Cavaliers did manage to limit the Warriors’ passing game, and junior linebacker Monte Hillard logged an interception.

But Lakeland continued to struggle with penalties. In the second quarter, an illegal procedure call helped kill a drive, while an illegal substitution stunted another. In the opening drive of the second half, two personal fouls helped take the Cavs from around the NR 30-yard line to the Lakeland 47.

In the fourth quarter, an apparent 71-yard scoring pass from senior quarterback Miles Goodman to senior wideout Convon’Tra Revell was called back due to an illegal chop block.

“Together we just didn’t get the job done,” Potts said.

Next Friday, Lakeland (1-4) visits King’s Fork High School (4-1), while Nansemond River (3-2) visits Oscar Smith.