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Pacers overcome miscues to top Eastlake


Defensive adjustments and a big opener from sophomore QB Eric Dungey key the win

by: VERN UYETAKE - Alex Alamida looks to shake an Eastlake tackler in Satuday's season opener. Alamida had six carries for 32 yards in the game. Coach Tom Smythe was quick to point out that last Saturday's 42-27 win over Eastlake, Wash. was a prototypical opening-week game.

The Pacers did a lot of things right, particularly on offense where the team put up more than 400 yards of total offense. But there were plenty of sloppy moments as well which allowed Eastlake to hang around until the final minutes.

Ultimately, Smythe was happy to walk away with a victory to open a season where the Pacers are replacing some explosive players.

Lakeridge got off to solid start, moving the ball into the Wolves' territory before coming up short on 4th and 11.

Eastlake took over and had a big run negated by a holding penalty. On the next play, Marqueese Royster burst through the line and leveled the quarterback, forcing a fumble that was scooped up and run in for a touchdown by Chris Barman.

Royster would be a thorn in Eastlake's side all night, pressuring the quarterback and forcing turnovers and the Wolves were forced to double-team him for most of the contest.

“(Marqueese) is very athletic. He's got good feet and he really has a feel for football,” Smythe said.

Lakeridge came up with another defensive stop on Eastlake's next possession but, on the punt attempt, the snap was muffed and Richard Thomas ended up finding Grant Lucarelli on the broken play for a 49-yard touchdown.

Lakeridge would regain the lead with one minute to play in the first quarter, taking advantage of good field position after a short punt.

Sophomore quarterback Eric Dungey got out of the pocket and scored on a 34-yard run.

Eastlake responded with its best drive of the night, going 66 yards in 10 plays for a score but the extra point sailed right as Lakeridge kept a 14-13 lead.

“Their quarterback got away from us a few times and their runningback is really talented. You like getting a challenge like that in your first game,” Smythe said. The Eastlake quarterback, Grant Beahm, is the son of former Lakeridge all-state quarterback Todd Beahm.

The Pacers clung to their slim advantage, turning away another Eastlake opportunity when Corey Meadows picked off a pass in the end zone.

Lakeridge returned the favor by throwing an interception on a halfback pass on the very next play.

The final minutes of the first half contained a flurry of activity. With 1:13 to play, Dungey hit J.R. McLaughlin on a pass that went 58 yards for a score.

But Eastlake had an answer, scoring just two plays later on a 54-yard touchdown of its own but the two-point conversion attempt failed.

Both teams then fumbled to each other in the final 10 seconds as Lakeridge held a 21-19 lead at the break.

The Pacers had struggled to slow down Eastlake, particularly in the running game in the first half but Lakeridge made adjustments and had infinitely more success on defense coming out of the locker room.

Royster recovered a fumble on the Wolves' first possession of the third quarter and McLaughlin would stop another Eastlake drive with an interception.

That set up another Pacers score as Dungey hit Mark Grothe who made a remarkable catch in the end zone from 21 yards out with 1:56 to play in the third period.

Lakeridge had the game seemingly under control until a screen pass that looked like it may have hit the ground, was taken for a 72-yard score with 4:57 to play. Eastlake converted the two-point attempt and suddenly it was a two-score game.

But the Pacers had an answer. Dungey connected with Grothe again, this time for a 50-yard touchdown and, one play later, Dungey scored on an eight-yard keeper.

Dungey was a spark for Lakeridge with his feet, running for 140 yards in the game.

“You'd like to have it the other way. You'd like to run for 200 yards and have your quarterback only have 60 of those but he did a nice job,” Smythe said.

Two sacks and an interception by Madison Pihl locked up the game for the Pacers. Lakeridge will now gear up for a high-scoring West Albany team on Friday.