By MATT VINES, Journal Sports
CAMPTI – The Lakeview offense pretty much did what it’s designed to do Friday against Jonesboro-Hodge – gobble up rushing yards and chew up time off the clock.
But turnovers and fumbles thwarted too many Lakeview drives as the Tigers fended off Lakeview, 34-22.
The Gators (3-6, 0-4 District 3-2A) gained 351 yards on the ground and possessed the ball for nearly 35 minutes, but the Tigers (3-6, 1-3) scored 28 points in the game’s first 15 minutes and jumped on enough loose balls to slow down Lakeview’s ground game.
“We had eight false start penalties, and we put the ball on the ground seven or eight times,” said Lakeview coach Andy Boone. “We only lost (three) of them, but those things put us behind the chains all night.
“The center-quarterback exchange killed us.”
Lakeview’s losing streak extended to five games while Jonesboro-Hodge snapped a four-game slide with the win.
Lakeview got the party started with a Kaleb Collins 3-yard touchdown run and a Collins two-point conversion for an 8-0 edge.
Jonesboro-Hodge scored on its next two possessions on scoring runs of 39 and three yards to snatch a 12-8 edge.
Lakeview’s Amania Green continued the first-quarter fireworks with a 19-yard touchdown jaunt to put the Gators back in the lead, 14-12, with 3:43 remaining in the opening frame.
The Tigers answered with two more quick scores on runs of nine and 48 yards to surge to a 28-14 advantage with nine minutes left in the second quarter.
Lakeview cut the deficit back to one score right before the half as Collins plunged in from one yard, and his two-point conversion got the Gators to within 28-22.
But the defenses ruled the second half as J-Hodge mustered the game’s only score on a 42-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter for the 34-22 lead.
The Gators fumbled twice inside the Tigers’ 15-yard line to assist in J-Hodge’s second-half shutout.
Lakeview’s defense vastly improved after halftime, something the Gators hope will carry over into the final week of the regular season against district leader and defending state champion Many.
“Well we finally tackled,” Boone said of a defense that’s allowed more than 60 points in each of its last two losses. “We played hard, we just put ourselves behind the chains too much tonight.”
Omarion Pierr paced Lakeview’s ground game once again with 161 rushing yards on 25 carries. Collins was the hammer with 100 yards on 21 touches. Green added 32 yards on five carries.
After coming in under the century mark against Mansfield this past week, Pierr crossed the 100-yard plateau for the sixth time this season and remains one of the state’s leading rushers.
Lakeview outgained J-Hodge 351-299 and even the penalty yardage difference wasn’t monumental (57 to 45 yards), but the small penalties spread out over many series made it difficult for a Gators offense that relies on moving the sticks.
The Gators entered Week 9 sitting at No. 26 in the Division IV Non-Select bracket, and Lakeview will try to hold on to one of those 28 playoff spots.
Lakeview will be heavy underdogs against Many, but if the Gators enter Week 10 still in the top 28, it’s possible that the power-point boost from playing Many will keep Lakeview in the playoffs if teams below them lose.
Four teams below Lakeview (Delhi, LaSalle, West St. John and Block) did pick up Week 9 wins, but the Gators do have more than a one-point lead over all but Delhi.