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Football: East Lake 42, Largo 0

East Lake High School’s senior linebacker Carson Lydon (3) sacks Largo High School quarterback Donovan Hale (4) during East Lake’s 42-0 win Friday night. “There’s something about playing this team (Largo) that makes me want to step it up and turn on another switch,” Lydon says. “I just want to go all out.”
East Lake High School’s senior linebacker Carson Lydon (3) sacks Largo High School quarterback Donovan Hale (4) during East Lake’s 42-0 win Friday night. “There’s something about playing this team (Largo) that makes me want to step it up and turn on another switch,” Lydon says. “I just want to go all out.”
Published Sep. 6, 2014

EAST LAKE — There are a number of reasons East Lake has become Pinellas County's dominant program, from a punishing running game to a stifling defense.

Perhaps the least known factor, though, is the Eagles' ability to play lights out on special teams. Last season, East Lake blocked 12 punts or field goals, nearly all of them resulting in scores or a short field.

On Friday, the Eagles continued their knack for blocking kicks. Carson Lydon blocked one punt and tackled the punter before he could get off a punt on Largo's first two series. The Eagles turned both of those big plays into points, jumping out to a big lead en route to a 42-0 victory in which a running clock was used in the second half because of the mercy rule.

It was fitting that Lydon played the biggest role in those game-changing plays. The senior linebacker, who moved here from North Carolina before the start of last season, had his breakout game against the Packers a year ago when he recorded 10 tackles, a sack and an interception. Lydon came through again Friday. Not only did he have two blocked punts, but he also had a sack and scored on an 11-yard run.

"There's something about playing this team (Largo) that makes me want to step it up and turn on another switch," Lydon said. "I just want to go all out."

Lydon's first blocked punt came on the opening possession. He scooped it up and returned it for a score, but it was called back on a penalty. No matter. Dylan Renaker scored on a 20-yard run on the Eagles' first play from scrimmage to go up 7-0. On the second blocked punt, Lydon converged with Regis Steighner on the tackle. Cedric Frierson had a 6-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0.

The Packers were flummoxed after that. Twice in the first half, they went for it on fourth down rather than punt. Each time, they failed to convert. East Lake kept piling on the points as quarterback Jake Hudson hit Bryce Miller on a 6-yard touchdown pass and Lydon had his scoring run to make it 28-0 at the half.

"Those two blocked absolutely were huge," Eagles coach Bob Hudson said. "The past two years we've blocked quite a lot of kicks. We work on it as much as anyone."

By the second half, the route was on. Frierson had another touchdown run and Ammillious Bennett rounded out the scoring with a touchdown run on the final play of regulation. In the third quarter, the Eagles had rolled to a 35-0 lead, signaling a running clock. It was the 11th time in the last 12 regular season games the Eagles have had a running clock on their opponent.

"The score, 42-0, I wouldn't have bet on that happening," Bob Hudson said. "There's something about this game where the guys strap it on a bit tighter and get after it."