BUSHNELL — Lakewood coach Cory Moore gathered his team near the north end zone of South Sumter's once-packed stadium and shouted a rhetorical question: "Lakewood in the state semifinals?" he said.
The Spartans continued to make history Friday night with a 27-21 win over previously undefeated South Sumter in a Class 5A region semifinal. Lakewood (10-3) is in a state semifinal for the first time.
"We've lost a lot of games that we should've won in the past," Moore said. "Tonight the guys came together. They played well."
Nobody played better than quarterback Ryan Davis. He completed 20 of 29 passes for 272 yards and threw two touchdowns. He also gained 64 yards on 21 carries and ran for two scores.
Davis contributed 334 of Lakewood's 346 total yards.
"Going into pregame I could tell I was in the zone," Davis said. "I was making all my passes. I felt great."
That was apparent from the beginning. The Spartans got the ball first and went on a nine-play drive that ended when Davis hit Darquez Watson on a 20-yard touchdown pass.
South Sumter, which runs a no-huddle, fastbreak offense, was stuffed on its first possession. On its second, the Raiders (12-1) got to the Lakewood 4 before fumbling.
That fumble proved costly when Lakewood went on a 14-play drive that spilled into the second quarter. It ended when Davis ran around the right end for an 8-yard touchdown.
Momentum shifted after that as South Sumter hit two touchdown passes and tied the game 14-14 at halftime.
"I asked them at halftime if they wanted to turn in their gear on Monday," Moore said. "They gave us a look like they wanted to keep playing."
Lakewood held the Raiders on downs to start the third. But on its second possession, South Sumter found the end zone when Brandon Anderson took a direct snap on a fake punt and ran 70 yards.
The Spartans did not go away. On first and 15 from their 33, Davis hit Joc Ellison on a flare pass. Ellison made one tackler miss then raced 67 yards for the tying touchdown.
Then came the biggest drive of the game.
Early in the fourth, Ellison returned a punt 35 yards to the South Sumter 23. Lakewood moved it to the 2-yard line, where it had fourth and 1. Moore sent out the field-goal unit, but after a timeout he sent Davis back out.
"Coach just trusted me and told me to get in there," Davis said. "I told him I wouldn't let him down."
Davis got the first down. One play later he barreled in from the 1 to make it 27-21.
Lakewood's secondary took over from there. Brujoun Bonner intercepted a fourth-down pass late in the fourth quarter. And with 1:02 left, Chris Jackson intercepted South Sumter's Levi Sapp again to seal the game.