When Lacey’s players looked across the field at the team on the side prior to Saturday’s opener, they saw a program in the midst of a 21-game losing skid. But the Lions weren’t about to take Pinelands lightly.
Instead, the Lions made sure the game was in control early on, as they put up 47 points in the first half and went on to rout the Wildcats, 61-7, in a Shore Conference nondivisional contest. Lacey finished with 430 yards of total offense.
“It doesn’t matter who’s on the other side,” said senior linebacker Sean Frank, who had a fumble recovery for a touchdown and made an interception to set up another. “We’ve got to play every game like we’re going up against an NFL team and just play our best.”
From the Lions’ first possession, they did just that, as senior running back Chris Jensen kicked off the scoring with a 6-yard touchdown run with 7:45 to go in the first quarter. Sophomore Pat Davis booted the extra-point to make it 7-0.
On their next possession, which started at the Pinelands’ 45, the Lions went up by two scores with one play, when senior quarterback Tom Kelly hit senior receiver Christian Tutela with a pass and Tutela ran the rest of the way for a TD. Davis added the point-after with 5:00 left in the first to make it 14-0.
Following an incomplete pass to start the next possession, Kelly ran around the outside and down the right sideline for a 61-yard scoring run, pushing Lacey ahead 20-0 with 2:50 to go in the quarter. With junior Conor Davies behind center for a series, the Lions added to their lead when Davies found Tutela in the corner of the end zone with an 11-yard TD pass, and Davis’ PAT made it 27-0 with 10:00 left in the half.
After another Pinelands punt, Lacey started on its own 23 and needed just three plays to cover the distance, which culminated with a 76-yard, Kelly-to-Travis Covell TD pass to make it 33-0 with 4:20 to go in the half. The Lions then added another TD when Kelly launched a bomb to Tutela that went for a 57-yard scoring pass. Another Davis PAT with :30 left in the second quarter made it 40-0.
“We wanted perfection with everything we did today,” said Tutela, who caught four pass for 132 yards. “We wanted everybody to do everything right, and I thought we did that. There’s always room to improve, but overall as a team we played a great game today.”
On the ensuing kickoff, Frank picked up a fumble at the Pinelands’ 14 and took it to the house, before Davis drove another PAT through the uprights to make it a 47-0 contest at the half.
After Lacey received the kickoff to start the second half, the Lions used four plays to cover 66 yards, with Tutela finishing the drive with a 15-yard run in which he somersaulted over a Pinelands safety and into the end zone. With Davis’ sixth PAT, the score was 54-0 with 8:30 to go in the third.
On the Wildcats’ next possession, Frank made an excellent play, batting a pass into the air and catching it himself, then rumbling 15 yards to put the Lions on the Pinelands’ 3-yard line. Three plays later, after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty pushed the Lions back to the 16, junior running back George Sayre carried the ball into the end zone for a 16-yard score. Davis’ last PAT with just over three minutes left made it 61-0.
“In practice this week, we knew what Pinelands was going to throw and I practiced doing stuff like that,” Frank said of his interception. “You practice how you’re going to play, so making that play wasn’t too hard.”
With the clock running in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats went 60 yards in 11 plays and senior quarterback Dan MacPhee capped the effort with a 1-yard burst into the end zone. Junior Jon Kubricki kicked the extra-point with 1:03 left.
Kelly finished the day 7-for-9 with 219 yards passing and 85 yards rushing on four carries. The Lions allowed the Wildcats 96 yards of offense.
“As we go on this season, we don’t just want to stay focused but also work together as a team,” Tutela said. “Every game each week is a big game for us.”