By Joe St. Henry
Review Sports Contributor
A dream start to last Friday’s football game against West Bloomfield quickly turned into a nightmare for Lake Orion, as the Lakers’ vaunted playmakers took over in the second quarter and defeated the Dragons, 42-21.
The loss ended the Dragons’ two-game winning streak and dropped their record to 2-3 (2-2 OAA Red).
Lake Orion jumped out to a 14-6 lead before West Bloomfield scored four touchdowns in nine minutes to seize control of the game.
“I thought we came out and played really well for the first quarter or so – as well as we have all season – but we just couldn’t make up those nine minutes where we broke down in all phases of the game,” said Head Coach John Blackstock.
“But I was really pleased with how we responded in the second half, basically holding them to a draw.”
The Dragons certainly came out playing fast and making plays. After holding West Bloomfield to a field goal on its first offensive position, Lake Orion used a power running game to move 60 yards on eight plays, capped by junior Marlon Robinson’s five-yard touchdown run.
That gave the Dragons a 7-3 lead at the 5:10 mark of the first quarter.
West Bloomfield drove into Lake Orion territory again on its second possession, but was limited to a second field goal, cutting the Dragons’ lead to 7-6.
Lake Orion then mounted a 12-play drive covering 55 yards, ending in a 24-yard touchdown run by junior Kobe Manzo.
The score put Lake Orion up 14-6 less than a minute into the second quarter.
“We figured we could move the ball on them, running right up the middle,” Blackstock said. “Our defense also made some big stops, keeping them to the two field goals. At that point, we were feeling really good about how we were playing.”
The Lakers’ then took control of the game, with big plays by their best players and aided by Dragon mistakes.
West Bloomfield scored on all of its possessions in the second quarter. The deluge started with two touchdown runs by their starting running back. Then their MSU-bound starting wide receiver caught two highlight reel 60-yard touchdown passes.
Lake Orion’s offense, meanwhile, stalled. The team only gained one first down during the quarter.
At the half, West Bloomfield had a commanding 32-14 lead.
“They committed more guys to the line of scrimmage to slow down our running game,” Blackstock said. “Then we missed a couple throws that we really needed.”
After a scoreless third quarter, the Lakers nailed their third field goal of the game early in the fourth to stretch their lead to 35-14.
The Dragons did mount an eight-play drive later in the quarter and scored on a 13-yard run by junior quarterback Blaze Lauer to cut the lead to 35-21.
The Lakers recovered the ensuing onside kick near midfield, however, and closed the scoring on a one-yard touchdown run.
Lake Orion finished with 283 total yards, including 243 on the ground. The Dragons were led by Manzo’s 99 yards on 11 carries and a score. Senior Jack DeBrincat picked up 69 yards on 14 carries.
“Kobe had another good game,” Blackstock said. “He’s the hardest worker on the field, tough as nails and has great hands.”
The Dragons travel to Southfield A&T this week in what Blackstock calls a playoff game.
Lake Orion needs to win four more games with four left to automatically qualify for the playoffs. The team would have an outside chance to qualify with a 5-4 record.
The Warriors are in the same boat, with a 2-3 record on the season. Blackstock expects a tough game, with Lake Orion’s defense to be tested.
Southfield A&T has strong skill position players and a huge offensive line, he said.
“They’re in the same situation as us,” Blackstock said. “They have to win this game, just like us, to keep their playoff hopes alive.”