LAND O’LAKES — Land O’Lakes couldn’t have asked for a better start to its regular season.
The Gators (1-0), led by junior quarterback James Pensyl’s 309-yard, three touchdown performance, blanked River Ridge 32-0 Friday at John Benedetto Stadium.
The victory came just four days after the program was rocked by the death of former assistant Bill Schmitz, who was honored with a moment of silence before the game.
“It was a tough week for our football team,” Land O’Lakes coach Brian Wachtel said. “My kids and my coaching staff have worked their butts off and tonight we put it all together out here on the field and it was exciting.”
The Gators’ offense was unstoppable from its first possession.
After Andy Dowler capped off a 13-play, 72-yard drive with a 37-yard field goal on the opening drive, the Land O’Lakes defense held the Royal Knights (0-1) to a quick three and out. Then, just one play later, Pensyl found Javin Tandy for a 40-yard touchdown pass to give the Gators an early 9-0 lead.
“We’ve been working on (the offense) all offseason,” Pensyl said. “The 7-on-7’s really helped in the summer and we’re coming together.”
Land O’Lakes piled it on in the second quarter, as Isaac Cabrera scored a rushing touchdown from 2 yards out, Dowler added another field goal and Ethan Weilant threw a strike to Liam Heaney from 47 yards out to give the Gators a 25-0 halftime lead.
“With what we’re doing, we have a plethora of guys out there catching the football and making plays,” Wachtel said. “They’re doing what we’ve asked them to do.”
Pensyl iced it in the third quarter with a 7-yard passing touchdown to Weilant.
Defensively, the Gators sacked River Ridge quarterback Patrick Mathieson eight times and held the Royal Knights to minus-35 yards.