Friday night’s Class B South matchup between Central Regional and Lakewood was a game of big plays . . . but perhaps bigger mistakes.
Lakewood scored its four touchdowns on the strength of four game-changing plays. But the Piners had just as many big mistakes which ultimately lifted the Golden Eagles to a hard-fought, entertaining 34-28 overtime win.
Central led 20-12 when Lakewood seemed to take control late in the third quarter with two touchdowns and two 2-points conversions. With under seven minutes remaining to play, Lakewood led 28-20 and was driving into Central territory. But instead of finishing off the drive, the Piners’ Chapelle Cook fumbled for the second time. Central’s Shaun Valencia recovered at the 30-yard line.
The turnover sparked the Golden Eagles. Quarterback Marquis Drumright completed five of six passes on the ensuing drive, scrambling away from a persistent Lakewood pass rush.
On fourth-and-goal from the 9, Central called timeout. Coach Willie Jacobs’ staff called the right play, a 9-yard strike from Drumright right at the goal line to Isiah Akers. Drumright’s 2-point conversion pass to Mike Yager knotted the score at 28 and led to the overtime.
In overtime, Central stopped Lakewood on a fourth-and-5 pass play from the 20-yard line. Once on offense, it took the Eagles one play to gain the victory.
Workhorse running back Javon Hardy raced 25 yards untouched up the middle for the winning touchdown to lift Central’s record to 4-2 overall and 4-1 in B South.
The victory gives the Eagles a shot at their first winning season in over 10 years.
“Our kids never gave up,” said Jacobs, a first-year coach. “This is a big one, a big win for us. I’m happy for the fans. I’m happy for the homecoming crowd. Great win.”
Each team scored on its first possession. Hardy ran three times before Drumright connected with Akers on a 41-yard touchdown pass. Akers stiff-armed a defender and raced down the right sideline.
Lakewood’s Amir Tyler returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards to the Central 13-yard line, setting up a 9-yard touchdown pass from Naquese Joshua to Eric Segui.
A Lakewood fumble led to Central’s next touchdown. Cook fumbled on first down and Mike Miserendino scooped up the ball and returned it 16 yards for the score, putting the Eagles on top 14-6.
Lakewood (4-2, 3-2) pulled to within 14-12 when Dan Niblack scooped up a punt that Ben Watson had blocked and ran it in for a touchdown.
Hardy almost singlehandedly put Central in front, 20-12, early in the third quarter. The senior ran four times for 33 yards on a 52-play drive, capping it with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Tyler set up the Piners’ next score, returning an interception 45 yards to the Eagles 15. Cook powered his way into the end zone by scoring from 4 yards out, then pushed his way in for the tying 2-point conversion to make it 20-20.
Central fumbled the kickoff and Lakewood recovered. Cook ran three consecutive times for 30 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run to put the Piners on top, 28-20.