It was like they had just had enough. Lakewood and Rosewood went back and forth for the first half, in a game that entered the intermission tied at 7-7, then, after the Leopards went up 14-7 early in the second half on a William Moore touchdown run, the Eagles scored on the ensuing kickoff to tie the game back up.
After that, the Lakewood team responded. They had had enough of letting their conference foe hang around in round one of the NCHSAA 1AA State Playoffs.
Their response? Twenty unanswered points, which led to the win, and a trip to top-seeded Tarboro next week.
“I thought we played well overall,” said Lakewood’s head coach, James Lewis, following the game. “We responded well each time that we had to. I think it was important for us to play hard the whole game, and that’s what we did. Rosewood was really playing hard and battling, but I think we were just finally able to wear them down in the second half.”
Leopard Zach Tanner did a nice job leading the team at quarterback, as he was seemingly able to find an open receiver each time the Leopards needed him to. The trio of Akilii Underwood, William Moore, and Carsell Bennett was once a gain a monster for Lakewood on Friday night, and has been a problem for opposing defenses all season. They have each been huge for the Leopard offense since star running back Dillion Kinlock went down with a knee injury earlier in the season.
But Lakewood football and their success over the past two seasons can’t be talked about without mentioning how good their defense has been. They were once again stellar in Friday’s win against an explosive Rosewood squad.
Although they allowed a touchdown, (the other was allowed by special teams) they were able to adjust and give the Eagles essentially nothing else.
“The defense was once again huge for us tonight,” continued Lewis. “They have been great all season, and they were once again tonight.”
Lakewood’s stats were not available at press time. They are set to travel to Tarboro next week to take on a team that has just one loss on the season, and are one of the favorites to win the state championship.
“I’ve never been to Tarboro,” laughed Lewis when asked about the challenge. “I know that they have a stellar football program and tradition, and are one of the best teams in all of the state. We have to be ready to play some good football. We’ll see what we can do.”
The game is scheduled for Friday at 7:30 p.m.