LAKELAND - The last time Lakeland took the field in a meaningful contest was against St. Thomas Aquinas in the Class 5A state championship game in December. That team and the one that took the field against Okeechobee on Friday were completely different squads, and it was evident in the 34-13 victory against the Brahmans.
'We stepped on our toes with the penalties,' Lakeland coach Bill Castle said despite the victory. 'There were too many mistakes.'
Lakeland's longest play from scrimmage was a 29-yard run while trying to kill the clock in the fourth quarter. The Dreadnaughts were protecting a 28-13 lead with two minutes remaining after a 21-point run in the first quarter.
Halfway through the first quarter, sophomore quarterback Jarred Haggins scored from 7 yards out to open the game's scoring. Four minutes later, Haggins found freshman speedster Javares McRoy in the back of the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead. The Dreadnaughts took a 21-0 lead on a 7-yard run by Ben McRoy.
Okeechobee had its first red zone attempt in the third quarter. The Brahmans failed to reach the end zone and opted for a field goal try. A botched snap led to a hurried pass to tight end Skyler Cruz in the corner of the end zone. It fell incomplete, but Cruz was tackled prematurely, and the penalty gave Okeechobee four more opportunities to score. Timmy Williams succeeded on a 3-yard run up the middle on fourth down, ending a 21-play, eight-minute drive, to pull within 21-7.
The Dreadnaughts responded with a well-orchestrated drive and an 11-yard touchdown run off the edge by fullback T.K. Lamb. Okeechobee turned to workhorse Lonnie Pryor, who carried the Brahmans the length of the field, and Timmy Williams scored from 4 yards out with four minutes to play. The extra point was blocked by Dreadnaughts defensive lineman Calvin Shaw.
The ensuing onside kick failed to travel the required 10 yards but was touched by a Lakeland player, then recovered by Okeechobee. In an attempt to make it a one-score game, Okeechobee began its march, again on the shoulders of Pryor. The Dreadnaught defense got good pressure, and the Brahmans came up short on a fourth-down incompletion by quarterback Garrett Madrigal.
The Dreadnaughts took over and, sparked by the 29-yard run by Haggins, scored the final touchdown on a 7-yard dash by Jason Guzman.
Okeechobee0076-13Lakeland147013-34 L - Haggins 12 run (O'Brien kick)
L - McRoy 22 pass from Haggins (O'Brien kick)
L - McRoy 7 run (O'Brien kick)
O - Williams 3 run (Cruz kick)
L - Lamb 11 run (O'Brien kick)
O - Williams 4 run (Kick failed)
L - Guzman 7 run (Kick failed)
TEAM STATISTICS Okeechobee LakelandFirst downs 1612Rushing 35-13030-181Passing 12-24-786-9-104Total yards 208285Interceptions by 01Sacks by 10Fumbles-lost 1-00-0Penalties-yards 3-3012-103