Bleachers on both sides of the field in Leopard stadium were filled as down-the-road rivals Lakewood and Midway took the field Friday night. Both teams battled hard, but the Leopards managed to pull off the 20-7 win.
“They beat us physically up front, both on offense and defense. They were just a lot more physical,” Midway head coach Tommy Sloan stressed as he walked off the field after speaking to his team. “Our kids played hard. We just didn’t make the big plays when we needed to.”
Lakewood’s head coach James Lewis looked relieved as he headed to the locker room after the game. “That was a big win for us. Midway has got a good football team,” he said.
“Our boys stepped up tonight and played really well. The defense played outstanding. We did what we had to do at the end. We were able to run the ball right at them and kept picking up first downs,” he added proudly.
The Leopards put the points up on the board first, but it wasn’t until almost the end of the first quarter.
As the clock dipped under the two-minute mark, the Leopards made it past mid-field on a 9-yard carry by Haywood Mack. Then junior Shyheim Rich broke free to put the Leopards on the 35. He was given the ball on the very next play and zigzagged through the field to cross the goal line with 1:22 left in the first quarter. The extra point kick by David Rivera was good.
Early in the second quarter, Midway was forced to punt and the Leopards ate up the clock driving down the field. Two key passes put them deep in Raider territory, but Midway’s defense held tight and Lakewood was forced to punt. Midway got the ball on their own 2-yard line. With 36 seconds left in the first quarter, Midway got a first down, but on the next play, as Raider quarterback Taylor Calcutt tried to find a receiver down field, he was sacked and time ran out before they could run another play.
Leopard Nikin Henry raced down field for 27 yards on the first carry after the intermission to put Lakewood on the 47-yard line. Three more first downs put the Leopards on the six yard line, but once again the Raider front line held fast and took over on downs.
Midway made it to Lakewood’s 30, but on fourth down and four, Calcutt was sacked again and the Leopards took over on the 43 yard line. A fired-up Henry powered to the 11-yard line and Haywood Mack carried it across the end zone on the next play. The exta point failed and as they entered the fourth quarter, the Leopards were up 13-0.
On Midway’s next possession, three big penalties against Lakewood gave the Raiders the opportunity to score.
The Raiders started on the 18-yard line, but a 15-yard Leopard penalty moved them to the 30-yard line. The next play was a 15 -yard run that gave Midway a first down. Three plays later and the Leopards held then at 4 and 1, but another penalty moved the Raiders to the 40 and gave them a first down.
Two running plays later moved Midway 22 more yards down field. Once again, a Leopard penalty moved the line of scrimmage to about the 10-yard line and on the next play junior Cody Baker powered through the middle of the field for the touch down.
The extra point kick by Raider kicker Junior Balderas was good. This moved the score to 13-7 with 5:47 left in the game.
Lakewood held on to Midway’s on-side kick and managed to march back to the goal line one more time. With less than a minute left in the game, Henry ran in for the Leopard’s third touch down of the night. Rivera’s extra point kick was good and the final score was 20-7.
This brought the Raiders record to 1-2 in the conference and 4-3 overall. Lakewood’s record moves to 2-1 in the conference and 5-1 overall.
Stats for Midway’s offense showed Baker as their leading rusher with 16 carries for 62 yards; quarterback Calcutt with 8 for 39; Aaron Thurman, 9-25; Jeremy Robinson, 3-10; and Jordan Killett 2 for 9.
Calcutt completed 7 of 15 passes for 69 yards. Troy Spell caught 5 for 66 yards and Baker caught 1 for 8 yards.
For the Leopards, Henry was the leading rusher with 19 carries for 155 yards; Shyheim Rich was 3 for 54; quarterback J.J. Tanner, 3 for 27; Damion Bennett, 7 for 22; and Haywood Mack, 4 for 21.
Passing, Tanner completed 4 of 7 passes for 52 yards. D.J. Rich caught 2 for 18 yards; Jabriel Cooper, 1 for 27; and Tirek James, 1 for 7.
Corey Parker led the Leopards on defense with 6 tackles, 2 sacks for a loss of 27 yards, and 1 fumble recovery. Malique Taylor had 9 tackles; Cody Barnett and Jabriel Cooper each had 6 tackles; and Stefan King was credited with 5 tackles.
Next Friday, both teams head out of the county with Midway traveling to Pender and Lakewood going to James Kenan.