By Joe St. Henry
Review Sports Contributor
Lake Orion’s football team gave its Homecoming crowd plenty to cheer about during a convincing 42-14 victory over Bloomfield Hills last Friday.
The win improved the Dragons’ record to 4-3 (4-2 OAA Red), the first time they have posted a record above .500 since John Blackstock became head coach last year.
Lake Orion scored three touchdowns in the second quarter – two in the last 1:15 before half time – to grab control of the game.
The Dragon rushing attack accounted for 313 of the team’s 372 total yards. Lake Orion averaged 10.1 yards per carry.
Junior Marlon Robinson led the way with 102 yards on the ground and a long touchdown. Quarterback Blaze Lauer ran for 54 yards and a score. Senior Matt Freeman and junior Joe Cady joined the Homecoming festivities with their own touchdown runs. Lauer also threw for two touchdowns.
“It was great to see the explosive plays, probably more than we’ve had all year,” Blackstock said. “We have a grinding run game – nothing fancy. But we’re starting to show what can happen when a team commits to stopping our run game. There’s nobody downfield to stop us.”
Bloomfield Hills was limited to 208 yards of total offense by yet another stingy defensive performance by Lake Orion, which included two interceptions.
“Defensively, we played tight for the most part all night,” Blackstock said. “We didn’t want to give up an inch.”
The Homecoming fans roared when the Dragons started the game with a 50-yard kickoff return, giving them great field position. They quickly moved the ball inside the Black Hawks’ one-yard line but could not get in the end zone on fourth down.
Lake Orion’s defense, however, forced a short punt. The ball was returned to the Bloomfield Hills’ 13-yard line. Freeman scored on the third play of the drive to put the Dragons up, 7-0.
“It was definitely frustrating to not score after the kickoff return and taking it all the way down the field, which gave Bloomfield some energy,” Blackstock said. “But we turned it over to the defense, they did their job and it was nice to come back and punch it in.”
The Dragons extended their lead early in the second quarter when Robinson sprinted past Black Hawk defenders on his way to a 65-yard touchdown, giving Lake Orion a 14-0 lead.
Bloomfield Hills closed the gap on their next possession, a 10-play scoring drive that cut the Dragons’ lead in half, 14-7.
Lake Orion responded with a 65-yard touchdown drive, capped by Lauer’s first touchdown pass of the night, a 19-yard highlight reel throw to the corner of the end zone caught by junior Mitch Howell. That put the Dragons up 21-7.
Lake Orion’s defense forced another short Bloomfield Hills’ possession with another short punt, giving the Dragons the ball on their opponent’s 49-yard line with 44 seconds to go before half time. After a long run by junior Kobe Manzo and a Bloomfield Hills’ personal foul, Lauer threw a 17-yard scoring touchdown to Freeman, giving them a commanding 28-7 lead at the break.
“Lauer is improving each game,” Blackstock said. “We have been working with him to throw to spots on the field and its nice to see it working.”
During half time, it appeared Bloomfield Hills decided the best way to slow down the Lake Orion offense was to keep it off the field. The Black Hawks started the third quarter with a 15-play, eight-minute drive that ended with a rushing touchdown to cut their deficit to 28-14.
But Bloomfield Hills could not stop Lake Orion’s big plays. Late in the third quarter, Cady broke a 35-yard scoring run down the sidelines. Lauer finished the Dragon rout by sprinting 51 yards in the fourth quarter to close out the game.
The second half was marred by a string of penalties and personal fouls. For the night, the two teams combined for 19 infractions totaling 186 yards. The Dragons were flagged 11 times.
“We talked a lot about the penalties, especially in the second half,” Blackstock said. “That’s not going to happen ever again.”
This week, Lake Orion and Clarkston meet again in their storied rivalry. The previously undefeated Wolves (6-1, 5-1 OAA Red) were upset last week by Oxford.
Lake Orion’s coach told his players to not think too much about Clarkston’s loss and concentrate more on their own preparation and execution this week.
“There will be a little more focus getting ready for this rivalry game,” he stressed.
Blackstock said the best recipe for beating Clarkston is to follow their recipe: run the ball successfully, pass effectively and do not beat yourself with penalties and other mistakes.
“A key for us will be to stay out of third and long situations on offense,” he said. “Defensively, we have to play as a team and simply slow them down.”