James Kenan showed why they are No. 2 in the state Friday, stopping Lakewood cold, 26-0 at Tiger Stadium. The Tigers are No. 1 in the conference and the Leopards are No. 3.
Lakewood head coach James Lewis didn’t have much to say after the game. “We didn’t come to play. They’ve got a great football team. This was a disappointing game,” he said quietly.
The Tigers are a much larger team than the Leopards and were fired up for the game. They kicked off to Lakewood, but quickly stopped them on four downs. The Leopards punted and on the Tigers first play, JaQuan Williams rushed 50 yards to the 15-yard line.
Despite a James Kenan fumble recovered by the Tigers quarterback, they managed to score at the 6:52 mark in the first quarter on a 3-yard run by Marcelius Sutton. The kick was good and JK put 7 points on the scorebaord.
Lakewood fumbled on the kickoff return at the 46-yard line, but James Kenan turned the ball back over to the Leopards on the next play when they dropped the ball. Lakewood made it to the 30 yard line before being driven back by the Tigers and forced to punt.
Both teams put up a defensive battle in the second quarter, but the Tigers slipped a 30-yard touchdown pass by the Leopards from Williams to Sutton. The extra point kick sliced the uprights and the score moved to 14-0 with just over 4 minutes left before the half.
About midway through the third quarter, Lakewood fielded a punt from JK and marched hard toward the Tigers’ goal line. The momentum had turned and it looked like the Leopards were finally going to cross into the end zone, but a fumble near the 30-yard line sent the football bouncing back the other way with both teams chasing it down until a Tiger finally fell on it.
Williams rushed to inside the 10-yard line and Sutton finished the job on the next play, running in from 6 yards out. The extra point attempt failed and the score moved to 20-0 with 5:25 left in the third quarter.
Two Leopard starters, Malique Taylor and Tirek James, suffered possible head injuries as the quarter wound down and they were unable to return to the game.
Just before the end of the third quarter, the Leopards attempted a trick play, pretending to punt, but actually throwing a pass. It would have been enough for a first down, but the receiver juggled the ball and it bounced out of bounds.
The defense on both sides held tight through most of the fourth quarter until Sutton broke open and ran 37 yards for the final touchdown of the night. The PAT was unsuccessful, making the final score 26-0.
As the time clicked off the clock, Leopard Cody Barnett struggled off the field. After being examined by the personnel on the sidelines, rescue workers were called and Barnett was put on a spineboard and taken to the hospital for further examination.
For the Leopard defense, Malique Taylor had 7 tackles despite sitting out the fourth quarter injured. Shyheim Rich also had 7 tackles; Kevin Murphy, 6 tackles, Cody Barnett, 5 tackles, and Jabriel Cooper had 4 tackles and 1 fumble recovery.
Leopard quarterback J.J. Tanner threw 4 complete passes of 9 attempts for 35 yards. Joe Ross Freeman caught one pass for 16 yards; Haywood Mack caught 1 for 11; D.J. Rich, 1 for 5; and Damion Bennett, 1 for 3.
Rushing for the Leopards was Nikin Henry had 13 carries for 51 yards; Haywood Mack, 9 for 32; Murphy, 1 for 12; and Carlon Cannady, 2 for 9 yards.
The Tigers offense had 38 carries for 272 yards.
Lakewood’s homecoming is next Friday when they will host county rival Hobbton.