Spartans defense key in win
In their first home game of the season, the Lakewood Spartans football team played against the St. Petersburg Green Devils on Friday at Lakewood High School, beating them 34-20. A defense that recovered fumbles, made interceptions and got the ball due to multiple turnover on downs was the winner on Friday night.
"The whole defense worked as a team. (The) defense stepped up big. (They) rose to the challenge," Defensive Coordinator Phil Muszynski said.
With a little over two minutes in the first and on their one yard line, the Green Devils fumbled the ball, the ball popping out into the air, when senior Jimmy Faulks caught and ran down the field for a 99-yard touchdown return.
"Pretty much a lot of adrenaline. I just grabbed the ball and ran straight to the sidelines. Once I beat the first defender I knew I was going for 99 yards," Faulks said on the play.
A lead of 6-0 was short lived when the Green Devils scored on a kickoff return, and the score was 6-6 at the end of the first. The Green Devils missed their PAT while the Spartans failed on a two-point conversion.
In a span of about a minute, at the start of the second quarter, both teams scored rushing touchdowns, sophomore Cornell Battles for the Spartans and senior Jacquel Waller for the Green Devils. Both failed the two-point conversion, a 12-12 tie.
With only a minute left in the first half, senior Emmanuel Eke intercepted a pass at St. Petersburg's 22 yard line and ran it all the way to inside the Spartans 20 yard line.
"That was the one that really turned the game around," Muszynski said on Eke's interception.
The interception led the Spartans to the one-yard line with six seconds left on the clock when sophomore Trayvon Johnson, a Spartan quarterback, ran into the end zone. A successful two point conversion put the Spartans up 20-12 at halftime.
"A very good performance. Sky is the limit for that kid. We have three really good quarterbacks, but he's the hot hand right now," Lakewood High head football coach Cory Moore said on Johnson's performance.
Battles scored a second rush touchdown in the second half, followed by a successful two-point conversion to make it 28-12 Spartans.
Later, a Spartan punt landed the ball on St. Petersburg's own one-yard line. On third down, what looked like a sack in the end zone and safety turned into the quarterback trying to throw the ball away and avoid the safey but it ended up with senior D'quez Alexander catching the ball in the end zone for a pick-six. The PAT was made, a 34-12 lead for the Spartans.
St. Petersburg would score a 45-yard pass touchdown in the fourth, followed by a successful two-point conversion, but it was junior Erik Hill, who replaced Johnson in the fourth quarter, and ended the game with a QB kneel. The final score was 34-20, a Spartans victory.
"We were all just playing as a unit on defense. Everyone makes plays when it's their turn to make a play for the team. Our defense is pretty much the centerpiece of the team. We always set out offense with great field position," Faulks said about the Spartans defense, which had two fumble recoveries.
"They made a decision. They decided to win," Moore said.
The victory gets the Spartan's record to 2-0. Lakewood will travel to Jacksonville next week where they'll face Bolles High School, the Bulldogs.