Early fumbles too much, but Gators can build on second half

New coach Andy Boone huddles with his Lakeview players. (Photo by KEVIN SHANNAHAN, Natchitoches Parish Journal)

By MATT VINES, Journal Sports

FARMERVILLE – By the time Lakeview found its stride in the second half, the damage had been done Friday in a 42-12 season-opening loss at D’Arbonne Woods Charter.

Five lost fumbles in the first half heavily contributed to a 28-0 halftime lead for the Timberwolves (1-0).

“We were marching on our first drive and got inside the (20-yard line) when we fumbled the first time,” said Andy Boone after his first regular-season game at the Gator helm. “D’Arbonne Woods is strong and a well-coached team, and you just can’t have turnovers like that.

“We had a much better second half.”

The Gators (0-1) matched the Timberwolves with two second-half touchdowns, but Lakeview missed both two-point conversions as DWC outscored the visitors 14-12 in the second half.

But more importantly, Lakeview didn’t have any second-half turnovers, converted all of its fourth-down attempts and recovered an onside kick – all hallmarks of a Boone system that prides itself on the run game and not punting and kicking off deep.

“We held onto the ball in the second half and didn’t have any fumbles,” Boone said. “We controlled the clock.

“(Quarterback Lamarian Rushing) had a much better second half. These guys love the system. We have to stay ahead of the chains, get positive yardage and avoid penalties.”

Down 28-0, the Gators struck first in the second half with an Amarion Pierre 36-yard touchdown run.

The teams traded scores from there as senior running back Caleb Collins plunged in from 1 yard for Lakeview’s other score.

Lakeview lists 21 players on its roster, meaning controlling the clock and not turning the ball over will be necessities to counteract a lack of depth.

The Gators did win time of possession by four minutes and gained 203 rushing yards with Pierre (87 rushing yards) and Collins (77 rushing yards) pacing the attack.

D’Arbonne Woods was a little more versatile on offense, rushing for 226 yards and completing all three passes for 64 yards through the air.

The Gators will hit the road for the second straight week when they head to Montgomery (0-1) next Friday looking for the first win of Boone’s tenure.

If last season is any indication, the Gators could be in for a stretch of success. Lakeview won its next four games against the same opponents in 2022 after a season-opening loss to D’Arbonne Woods Charter.

The 2022 Gators topped Montgomery 33-7 before rattling off wins against Northwood-Lena, LaSalle and Delta Charter.