The Leopards made themselves known Friday night against their new conference competition, beating the Gators of Spring Creek 52-13.
Lakewood fans knew it was going to be good game from the starting kick off when Deshuan Wilson scrambled 25 yards before being brought down in Gator territory.
The very next play, teammate Haywood Mack carried it in for a touch down. The extra point kick by Wesley Sessoms went right up the center of the uprights to start the game at 7-0 with 10:35 left to play in the first quarter.
Lakewood defense forced the Gators to give the ball back on downs. The Leopards marched it back into the Spring Creek red zone and with 5:03 showing on the clock, quarterback J.J. Tanner sneaked across the goal line from 3 yards out.
Once again, Sessoms’ kick was spot-on and the score moved to 14-0.
Spring Creek seemed to find their footing on their next possession.
Gator DeVonte Faison returned the kick off about 35 yards when he was run out of bounds.
A pass from the quarterback to Faison lead to their only score in the first half. They fumbled the snap on the extra point kick. The score was 14-6.
A Gator blocked punt started the second quarter. Deontre’ Newkirk slammed the football back on the ground for Tirek James to scoop up and run in for a quick 6 points. The extra point failed and the score changed to 20-6 with just 10 seconds off the clock.
At the 7 minute mark, the Leopards had the ball back and two big plays put them in Gator territory. Mack got the call and zigged and zagged his way from the 33 yard line into the end zone for another TD . The two-point conversion failed, but the score continued to climb for Lakewood, 26-6.
About 2 minutes later, James snagged an interception that put the ball back in Lakewood’s hand. A pass by quarterback Tanner to Roman King moved the team to the 11 yard line. Then a quick pass to Austin Tanner put them in the end zone one more time.
The extra point kick by Sessoms added a point and the score, with 4 minutes left in the first half, was 33-6.
The Leopards weren’t finished, though.
With just seconds before intermission, Tanner threw a 17 yard TD pass to Seth Herwy. The point after kick by Sessoms sliced the goal posts to end the first half with a score of 40-6.
The third quarter was more of the same for the Leopards.
At about the 8 minute mark, Roman Leach started the drive off with about a 30 yard run to give Lakewood a first and 10. Wilson carried it in on the next play, but the 2-point conversion failed.
With about 4 minutes left in the third, Stefan King managed to block a Gator punt at about the 35 yard line. He chased the ball down and fell on it around the 5 and on the next play, Leach ran it in for 6 more points.
The extra point kick was blocked, making the score going into the fourth quarter 52-6.
Spring Creek continued to fight despite time quickly running out on them. With less than 3 minutes on the clock, the Gators had driven down to about Lakewood’s 10 yard line. Faison powered into the end zone for the score and the extra point kick was good.
The final score of the night was 52-13.
“We’re just happy to get that first conference win. The boys played really good tonight, both defense and offense gave 100 percent. Everyone got to play and when that happens it’s a good game,” an elated Leopard head coach James Lewis said after the game.
Tanner completed 8 of 10 passes for 115 yards with 2 being for touch downs.
Rushing yardage for the Leopards totaled 193 yards. Mack carried the ball 10 times for 86 yards and 2 touchdowns; Wilson, 4 for 16 with 1 touchdown; Leach, 9-68, with 1 touchdown; Sam Koser, 7-30.
On defense, Tirek James had an outstanding night with 3 tackles and 1 fumble recovery for a 23 yard touchdown, plus an interception. Trace Faircloth had 9 tackles; Deontre’ Newkirk had 6 tackles and 1 blocked punt; Stephan King, 6 tackles and 1 blocked punt; Logan Brewer, 5 tackles and 1 sack for an 8 yard loss.
The Leopards travel to North Duplin next Friday.