The scoreboard showed that Lakewood both shut down and shut out Pinelands, 33-0, on Saturday.
The Piners on the field showed they clearly have some ability. Great attitudes. Good potential.
Did coach L.J. Clark’s team show enough progress to challenge in Shore Conference Class B South and qualify for the NJSIAA sectionals?
Yes and no.
The Piners (2-1, 1-1) ran the ball for 184 yards . . . but they also turned the ball over on three consecutive first-half possessions. They won by 33 points . . . but they had three touchdowns called back because of penalties.
The execution is not quite there yet. The offense is not quite clicking.
“We can play a lot better, we have to clean up our mistakes,” Clark said. “Turnovers are killing us. We feel we have the talent to play in the states.”
Pinelands, which snapped a 22-game losing streak last week, is clearly improved. “It’s our time, let’s go,” cheered coach Brian Wilkinson. And the Wildcats (1-2, 1-1) did fight the good fight.
Lakewood drove 77 yards on its first possession, but stalled. The next three times they had the ball, the Piners turned the ball over. Wildcats Matt MacPhee and Cody Bonicky had interceptions sandwiched around a Lakewood fumble.
Midway through the second quarter, Lakewood’s Joey Keraitis intercepted a pass by Pinelands quarterback Dan MacPhee (7-13-63-1) to set up the Piners’ first score. The 4-play, 52-yard drive reached the end zone on Mike Randolph’s 34-yard scamper around left end on a pitchout.
With 31 seconds left in the first half, Randolph (7 rushes, 52 yards) struck again. This time, a long lateral into the left flat created open space for the fleet senior, who raced 28 yards to paydirt. The kick failed and Lakewood led 13-0 at the half.
The Piners would score 13 more points in the third quarter, but without the help of the offense. Twice within three plays, Pinelands’ center snapped the ball over MacPhee’s head, with the Piners falling on the ball in the Wildcats’ end zone. The second recovered snap-touchdown started at the 30-yard line.
Lakewood’s Danny Niblack and Josh Palmer fell on the ball for each of the touchdowns. Five consecutive punts would follow before Lakewood sophomore Amir Tyler closed out the scoring with a 5-yard charge up the middle with 1:55 remaining.
Lakewood junior Chapelle Cook, one of the Piners’ best players, was held out of the game with a high ankle sprain but is expected back next week.