ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood didn't need extra motivation for its annual city rivalry game against St. Petersburg. But the Spartans say the Green Devils provided some when they stomped on Lakewood's inflatable tunnel in the south end zone just before introductions.
With no tunnel to run through, Lakewood instead focused on running right over St. Petersburg.
Spartans kick returner Donterrio Fowler returned the opening kickoff 87 yards and Lakewood never looked back in a 28-3 win.
"They stepped on our tunnel so we had to punch them in the mouth," Fowler said. "You saw the opening kickoff. I saw the hole and just hit it."
Lakewood (2-1) jumped out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead. Its first offensive possession started at the 15-yard line, but thanks to a pounding running attack the Spartans moved to the St. Petersburg 12 in seven plays. Then quarterback Ryan Davis hit Tyrae Boykins on a screen. Boykins bounced off tackles to make it 14-0.
Fowler struck again on Lakewood's next possession. After a Tyrell Hubbard-Smith interception of a Rob Tribolet pass, Davis hit Fowler on the first play of the drive with a 39-yard screen for a touchdown.
"That was open the whole game," Fowler said. "Once I caught it, I saw the crease and went for the touchdown."
By the second quarter, heavy rain started to fall and both offenses sputtered. Lakewood led 21-0 at halftime and relied on defense in the second half.
The Green Devils (2-1) had their lone offensive highlight late in the third quarter when Parker Bryant kicked a 40-yard field goal. That seemed to awaken Lakewood, which put together a 14-play drive in response.
The drive was kept alive on a fake punt by Joc Ellison. Romello Presley capped the drive with a 3-yard run early in the fourth.
It could have been worse late in the fourth after St. Petersburg fumbled a punt at its 5-yard line. But on third and goal from the 1, Davis was intercepted by Maurice Hemingway in the end zone. He returned it 74 yards, but the Green Devils were unable to score.
"We're starting to jell a lot more on offense and defense and as a coaching staff," Lakewood coach Cory Moore said. "We're not where we want to be, but we're moving in the right direction."
Davis finished with 145 passing yards and two touchdowns and led the Spartans in rushing with 79 yards. St. Petersburg was led by Deangelo Reeves, who had 16 carries for 91 yards.
Lakewood offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn, a Georgia commit, left the game in the third quarter with a left ankle sprain. Trainers iced the ankle and Moore said he believes Wynn will be able to play next week against Gibbs.