Emotional start not enough for Pacers
The second half of last Friday's game was probably what most people expected to see when they showed up at Lakeridge's first football game of the year on Friday.
The Pacers turned the ball over four times and had 14 penalties for 97 yards, the majority of which were procedural or for delay of game. And, in a Zero Week game where only half of the varsity squad has any real experience, those stats which led to a 35-7 loss to Sunset, are not entirely unpredictable.
What was unpredictable, however, was the way the team played in the first half.
The spirited Pacers took it to Sunset for 24 minutes, scoring first and taking a 7-6 lead into the locker room. And it could have been a 14-6 lead were it not for a goal line stand by the Apollos to close the second quarter.
The Pacers only had 30 players eligible to get into last Friday's game and 29 of them did. The team also used three quarterbacks, only one of which had ever played the position before. But, in the end, Lakeridge simply ran out of gas.
'We knew we'd be able to compete. It's just a matter of can we stay healthy and can we stay in the game?' Pacer coach Ian Lamont said.
It was a special start to the season, however. A season that very nearly didn't exist.
The Pacers got off to a strong start by forcing Sunset to go three and out. Then, after giving Sunset good field position following a short punt, Lakeridge came up with a big stop on fourth down.
The Pacers' defense was a highlight all game long as, despite giving up 35 points, Sunset only mustered 226 yards of total offense.
'The defense tired a bit but they're gamers. We have some athletes on that side of the ball. The problem is they also play offense which wears them out,' Lamont said.
After a Lakeridge three-and-out, the Pacers forced a fumble and recovered the ball in Sunset territory. James Taylor picked up a first down on the ground and then Danny Kloucek dropped back to pass and hit Daniel Chesney for a 22-yard touchdown.
John Martin, a member of the Lakeridge soccer team, converted the extra point to make it 7-0 on the last play of the first quarter.
'That was pretty fun. This is a special group of guys and the support from the community has been tremendous,' Lamont said.
Sunset responded quickly. Despite hurting themselves with penalties, the Apollos still moved down the field. A big pass from Michael Verbeek to Jeff Calderwood set up a quarterback sneak for Sunset's first score. The extra point attempt missed wide, however, leaving the score at 7-6.
Lakeridge moved the ball well on its next possession, converting on fourth and two at midfield. A big catch by Connor Duwelius got the team into the red zone but, on fourth and two at the three-yard line, Lakeridge failed to convert with under a minute to play in the half.
The Pacers got the ball to start the third quarter but, on their first play from scrimmage, Kloucek was picked off by Kyle Chamberlain.
Just a few plays later, Calderwood caught a six-yard touchdown pass and Sunset converted the two-point conversion for a 14-7 lead.
'Zero Week games are tough. The good thing is all the mistakes we made are fixable. We just have to get a little more fit. You can't emulate the speed of the game in practice,' Lamont said.
A trick play which saw tailback Chase Wippert throw a 25-yard pass to Duwelius, moved the Pacers to midfield again but another Chamberlain interception stopped that drive.
Lakeridge sputtered offensively for almost all of the second half. Delay of game penalties and two fumbles gift-wrapped field position for the Apollos who took advantage and scored three more times to put the game away.
Duwelius has another first down catch and led the team with 78 yards receiving in the game. Then, on the Pacers' final drive of the game, Taylor and Dylan Patterson each had first-down runs but penalties and a sack thwarted the team's late scoring chance.
Taylor led all rushers in the game with 17 carries for 79 yards. Kloucek was 7-for-15 for 99 yards. Next up for Lakeridge will be a road trip to Crater in two weeks.
Apollos: 0 6 15 14: 35
Pacers: 7 0 0 0: 7
LR: Daniel Chensey, 22-yd. pass from Danny Kloucek; John Martin kick; 0:00 1st.
SUN: Michael Verbeek 1-yd. run; kick failed; 8:20 2nd.
SUN: Jeff Calderwood; 6-yd. pass from Verbeek; Alan Willes run; 10:20 3rd.
SUN: Wes Wenzel; 24-yd. run; Kyle Chamberlain kick; 2:58 3rd.
SUN: Dom Delgado; 13-yd. run; Chamberlain kick; 5:33 4th.
SUN: Kyler Bruno; 20-yd. run; Chamberlain kick; 2:01 4th.
LR: Taylor 17-73, Wippert 7-29, Patterson 1-4, Behbahany 1-1, Kloucek 6- -33, Burton 2- -5, Lewis 1- -4.
SUN: Wenzel 9-66, Willes 8-56, Verbeek 7-5, Delgado 6-23, Bruno 3-8, Harper 1-6.
LR: Kloucek 7-15, 99 yds., 2 INTs, 1 TD; Lewis; 1-4, 22 yds.; Nakashima 0-3, 0 yds.; Wippert 1-1, 25 yds.
SUN: Verbeek 8-13, 62 yds. 0 INT, 1 TD.
LR: Duwelius 4-78, Chesney 2-30 (1 TD), Young 1-0, Wippert 1-16, Kloucek, 1-24.
SUN: Willes 3-19, Delgado, 2-16, Calderwood 2-30 (1 TD), Wenzel 1- -3.
First Downs: 9 11
Rushes: 35 34
Rush yards: 109 194
Pass attempts: 23 13
Completions: 9 8
Pass yards: 148 62
Total yards: 203 226
Fumbles/Lost: 5/2 4/2
Pentlaties/Yds: 14/97 11/82
Punts/Yards: 5/147 4/167
Punt return yds: 1/3 2/24
Kickoff return: 5/64 2/53
3rd Down Conv: 3-13 2-7
Time of Poss: 24:38 23:22