By Joe St. Henry
Review Sports Writer
Lake Orion fans hoping for an exciting football game versus Rochester Adams last Thursday left disappointed, as the Highlanders slayed the Dragons on the road, 39-8.
Rochester Adams dominated from the beginning and limited Lake Orion to 13 yards of offense deep into the third quarter. Lake Orion finished with 107 total yards for the game. The Highlanders’ offense, meanwhile, was in mid-season form. Adams featured a balanced attack, with 174 rushing yards and two touchdowns and 163 yards through the air with three scores. The Dragons fell behind 32-0 before scoring in the fourth quarter.
“You have to give credit to Adams,” said Head Coach John Blackstock. “They’re a good team and executed well. We struggled in all facets.
“I liked our effort. We played hard, but you have to play hard the right way. We still need to execute and improve on the fundamentals.”
The loss drops Lake Orion to 0-2 on the young season (0-1 OAA Red), with another formidable opponent this week in West Bloomfield.
As in their first game, penalties hurt the Dragons (eight total). Rochester Adams’ first possession seemingly ended on a missed field goal from inside Lake Orion’s ten-yard line, but a personal foul against the Dragons on the attempt gave the Highlanders new life. They opened the scoring on a short touchdown run on their next play to jump out 7-0 in the first quarter.
“We cut down the penalties from the first game, but they still came at bad times for us,” Blackstock said.
Rochester Adams added to their lead in the second quarter when Lake Orion turned over the ball and the ensuing drive led to a Highlander field goal. They scored their second touchdown of the game on another short run with less than two minutes to go before halftime, giving Rochester Adams a 17-0 lead at the break.
The Highlander assault continued in the third quarter with a long drive to start the half. It was aided by Dragon penalties and culminated in 23-yard touchdown pass to up their lead to 24-0. After Lake Orion’s next drive stalled, Rochester Adams scored again on a 29-yard touchdown pass.
The point-after-attempt epitomized Lake Orion’s struggles during the game. The Rochester Adams holder mishandled the snap, scrambled and as he was being tackled flung the ball forward in desperation. A Rochester Adams player in the area juggled the ball in the air and dove for the end zone pylon, hitting it as he landed on the ground. The two-point conversion bumped the lead to 32 points.
The Dragons finally got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter. Lake Orion recovered a Rochester Adams fumble near midfield, moved downfield thanks in part to two key catches by senior Pierce Burke and scored on senior Dylan Frank’s two-yard plunge. The two-point conversion was successful.
Rochester Adams closed the scoring on their quarterback’s third touchdown pass of the game – a 27-yard strike with four minutes to go.
“Our defensive line took away their dive play that they run well, but we let their quarterback loose,” Blackstock said. “Our defensive backs got caught peeking at the backfield a couple of times and he hurt us on long pass plays.”
The stars of the game, however, were the Highlander defense. Lake Orion’s rushing game was shut down, with 36 attempts and 1.8 yards per carry. Frank was kept in check with only 44 yards running on 11 carries. Lake Orion’s quarterbacks only completed three passes for 44 yards, while being sacked multiple times.
The schedule does not get any easier for Lake Orion this week, with the Lakers visiting the Dragons on Friday night. Preseason favorites to win the league title, West Bloomfield is a surprising 0-2 in the early season.
In addition to an aggressive defense, Blackstock said the Lakers throw the ball well – both short and deep routes. They feature a quarterback and two wide receivers who are going to play D1 college football.
“It’s going to take a total team effort against them,” he said. “We have to play better in all areas.”