RIVERVIEW — By their coach's own admission, the Lakewood Spartans got a bit carried away in the waning moments of Friday's do-or-die showdown at Spoto.
A couple of unsportsmanlike-conduct flags — essentially celebration penalties — were tossed, some smack talk emanated, and administrators opted to bypass the postgame handshake.
But just before losing their composure, the Spartans gained a playoff berth. And for that, coach Cory Moore seemed willing to let the raucousness slide — at least until Monday's practice.
Bernard Reedy's 37-yard touchdown burst with 93 seconds to play sealed Lakewood's 26-15 triumph, sending the Spartans to the postseason and Spoto to the offseason.
"I know they celebrated a lot, but I think for them, that's probably the biggest win they've had since they've been at Lakewood," Moore said. "I know they kind of went overboard a little bit, but they're kids and they'll do what kids do."
Behind Reedy, a proficient quarterback rotation of Jermiel Douse and Alphonso Evans, and a relentless defensive front that refused to be fooled by Spoto's wing-T misdirection, Lakewood essentially dominated on both sides.
Subtract Jamar Burns' 29-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that gave the hosts a 7-0 lead, and Spoto (7-3, 3-2) managed only 44 yards on the ground. On its first two possessions of the third quarter, Spoto moved inside the Lakewood 10, but didn't score either time.
"We played three wing-T teams already this season and we were very disciplined and ready for this," said Lakewood senior Deonte Jackson, whose fourth-quarter sack of Dominic Addison in the end zone gave Lakewood a 19-15 lead. "We were ready for anything."
Jackson's safety was Lakewood's second of the night.
In the second quarter, a high snap on a Spoto punt attempt sailed into the back of the end zone, cutting Spoto's lead to 7-2. On the next possession, Reedy scored from 15 yards on fourth and 2. Byronton Jackson's conversion run made it 10-7.
On the next Lakewood possession, Evans — stepping in for Douse — hit Javaris Little for a 20-yard TD to make it 17-7. On the 77-yard drive, Evans went 4-for-4 for 73 yards. Collectively, he and Douse finished 12-for-21 for 152 yards, one TD and a pair of Evans interceptions.
"We kind of went with who had the hot hand," Moore said. "But of course when times get clutch we want the ball in Bernard's hands."
Hence the reason Reedy had it for three consecutive plays after Lakewood recovered Spoto's onside free kick with three minutes to play. His third and final run was the game clincher.
"Our kids overcame adversity (this season), they showed great character," said Spoto coach Dale Caparaso, whose team began 6-0 despite losing starting quarterback J.B. Burgess to an arrest over the summer.
"…But what are you gonna do? We didn't play our best game."