Tensions were boiling extremely high leading into Friday night’s game that featured the home team Lakewood Leopards squaring off against their rival, the Midway Raiders.
Lakewood was running on a two-game win streak prior to Friday’s game, and Midway was sure to take note of that. The Raiders’ squad tore through a banner hoisted by Midway cheerleaders that read “Your win streak ends today” before the game began on a beautiful night for football.
Instead, the Leopards extended their win streak, which has consisted of blowing out opposing teams by an average of 39 points, to three games, beating Midway 41-14 in what looked like a shootout at first. It turned out to be the exact opposite. This particular game had been hyped up by both teams prior to Friday, and it had definitely been marked on each teams’ schedules. That hype could be clearly seen on the sideline, with players from both teams barking team chants back and forth.
The Leopards took advantage of a slow start by Midway, and took it to the house on their second drive of the game, thanks to a 47-yard touchdown scamper with 1:47 left to play in the first quarter by running back Carsell Bennett. Bennett took the hand off to the right and was off to the races. Lakewood would not look back and led 14-0 at half.
Bennett scored three more times on the night, and ended up tallying 15 rushes for an incredible 145 yards, for a nearly 10-yard average. He plunged in from the 3-yard line with nearly five minutes to go in the second quarter to make the score 12-0, and exhausted the Midway defense yet again with a 21-yard sprint after he broke to the right for a touchdown just before the third quarter came to a close. Bennett would score his last touchdown of the night with a 1-yard run up the middle in the fourth quarter. His teammate, Dre Oates, also had a solid game with 114 yards on 10 rushes and a touchdown on Friday night. The one-two punch would end up posting 259 yards and five touchdowns combined on the night.
Despite the loss, Midway still holds a winning record at 3-1, matching Lakewood, and had a solid 133 yards on the ground, with senior running back Jake Clark making up half that output — 67 yards on 15 touches.
The Raiders attempted to mount a comeback midway through the fourth quarter when they pulled to within 14 with a punt return for a touchdown by Carson Calcutt that made the score 28-14, but the Lakewood offense proved too strong for Midway. The Raiders struggled with penalties all night and Midway’s coach Jason Fussell was frustrated after the loss, stating that Lakewood had their way with his team.
“Lakewood did pretty much whatever they wanted,” Fussell said.
Lakewood dominated on both sides of the ball, even recording a scoop-and-score by Quamaine Williams late in the fourth quarter that successfully sealed the game. However, Lakewood coach James Lewis was quick to credit his offensive line for their stellar play and praised them for the holes they made for the Leopards’ backs to run the ball.
“I don’t know how many yards rushing we had, but we had a lot and I think we did a good job up front,” Lewis stated.
Lakewood recorded a whopping 330 yards and every offensive touchdown on the ground. Nevertheless, Lewis believes the Leopards can improve everywhere, noting that they do not have any starters back from last year and his team is still going through a learning process even though it did not look that way under the bright lights Friday night.
Midway has a bye week before heading to Elizabethtown to face off against the 2-1 East Bladen Eagles on Sept. 23. Lakewood travels to Red Springs in a game that Lewis noted as significant considering the Leopards, who are now riding a three-game winning streak, were beaten by the Red Devils last year.