The Lakewood defense held Union to just one touchdown Friday, winning 14-7 in Leopard Country on Senior Night. This brought about a 3-way tie for third in the Tri-County Conference between Union, Lakewood, and Pender.
Due to this unique predicament, Lakewood statistician Bill Faircloth said the coaches drew for seeding in the state playoffs. Union took third place, Lakewood fourth, and Pender is seeded fifth. This means the Leopards will travel to Spartan Country next Friday for the first round game, according to Faircloth.
Coming off a tough loss at Pender last week, Lakewood stepped up their game and managed to put the first points on the scoreboard at 8:18 in the first quarter. Leopard senior Nikin Henry burst through the line for a 37 yard run, but was brought down on the one yard line. Quarterback J.J. Tanner muscled the ball across the goal line on the next play.
David Rivera kicked the extra point to make the score 7-0.
The next score came with 4:43 left in the second quarter from a 8-yard touchdown pass from Leopard junior Tanner to senior Kevin Murphy. Sophomore Rivera kicked the extra point and the score moved to 14-0.
Union quickly answered with a 3 yard touchdown run with 2:28 left in the first half by Alfredo Garcia. Garcia also kicked the extra point.
The score at intermission favored the Leopards 14-7.
The second half was a defensive war between the two teams, with neither managing to cross into the end zone.
With less than three minutes left in the game, Union marched down the field after a 58 yard punt by Lakewood’s Rivera, and got to the Leopard 15-yard line. A strong Lakewood defense and the clock all worked against the Spartans and the game ended before they could score.
Lakewood head coach James Lewis was glad to see the clock tick down to end the game. “I knew they would play us tough and we better step up our game,” he said. “Union’s a well-coached team, so I’m happy to get out of here with a win. These boys played hard and I’m proud of them.”
Leading rusher for the Leopards was Henry with 12 carries for 77 yards. Haywood Mack rushed 11 for 43; Damion Bennett, 6 for 19; and Murphy went 4 for 7.
Leading rushers for the Spartans were Dezmond Faison with 13 carries for 65 yards; Natrone Banks, 7 for 69; Alfredo Gracia, 12 for 28; and Bakeem Murphy, 3 for 13.
On passing yardage, Lakewood’s Tanner completed 2 of 4 passes for 28 yards.Murphy caught 1 for 8 yards, which was a TD and Haywood Mack caught 1 for 20 yards.
Union’s Garcia completed 2 of 11 for 12 yards with 1 interception. Faison threw one pass for 29 yards. On the receiving end for the Spartans, Tim Smith caught one pass for 29 yards, and Daniel Glover caught one for 15 yards.
On Leopard defense, Stefan King had 7 tackles and 1 sack for an eight-yard loss. Murphy had 6 tackles; Trace Faircloth had 5.5 tackles and 1 sack for a 5 yard loss; Jabriel Cooper had 4.5 tackles and 1 interception; and Rivera had 4 tackles, plus 1 sack for a 2 yard loss.