Lakewood Takes Down Loyola
Maybe its high-profile showdown against Long Beach Poly three weeks ago wasn’t the time for Lakewood to arrive as a Division I football power in the Southland. The Lancers lost that Moore League battle but perhaps showed their colors Friday night against Los Angeles Loyola.
Lakewood rode its dominating defense in the second half and used an effective short passing game to take control of the clock and dethrone the defending Division I champion Cubs, 14-7, before an estimated 7,000 at Glendale High.
The Lancers (11-1), who are pining for a rematch with Poly in the championship game, will have to get past second-seeded Los Alamitos in the semifinals next week.
“It shows that we’re headed in the right direction,” Lakewood Coach Mike Christensen said. “We want to be one of those elite teams and be good consistently.
“This was a victory where we kind of had to let everybody else know that, hey, we’re a good football team.”
The outcome was decided on Justin Robertson’s one-yard leap into the end zone with 5:40 remaining, a play that capped a 57-yard drive in 13 plays that took nearly seven minutes.
But it was the defense that denied the Cubs any chance of taking control of the game.
Loyola (9-3) ran only 14 plays in the second half and managed nine yards.
Quarterback Casey Frost, who accounted for 280 yards of total offense in last week’s victory over Huntington Beach Edison, was sacked three times and held to minus-10 yards on nine rushes.
“We fought together as a unit,” Lakewood linebacker Luthur Brown said. “And we have faith in ourselves. When they scored, we knew our guys would score too.”
Lakewood converted six third-down plays and three fourth downs, finishing with 19 first downs for the game. Much of that was because of senior quarterback Justin Wheeler, who completed 19 of 28 passes for 149 yards and also had two critical fourth-down sneaks on the game-deciding drive.
“They had to respect our speed because we were much quicker than they were and they had to give that to us,” Christensen said.
“We took advantage of it and we were able to run the ball just enough and pound it out a little bit.”