ST. PETERSBURG — The sun couldn't dry the soggy field fast enough for the Saturday afternoon kickoff between Lakewood and St. Petersburg. Nonetheless, there was football to be played.
In a defensive battle where both teams combined for less than 400 total yards of offense, the Green Devils hung tough to pull out the 14-12 win in their season opener.
Wide receiver Adul Yates Jr. caught the winning touchdown from quarterback Austyn Causey with 49 seconds left in the third quarter. The Green Devils added the score one play after a short Spartans punt.
"It was a typical first kind of game," St. Petersburg coach Joe Fabrizio said. "We had very few practices this week. You can see it on both sides; Lakewood had the same situation. I was proud of how hard our guys played. We made some mental mistakes, but our overall effort was really good.
After a scoreless opening quarter, the Spartans only needed seven plays to put up six points. Junior quarterback/wide receiver Troyvon Johnson finessed his way in for a 13-yard run, but the extra point was blocked.
Moments later, St. Petersburg gave junior running back Deshawn Brown the keys to the offense. He totaled three carries for 52 yards and a 28-yard touchdown to put his team ahead 7-6.
Lakewood made a late push with just under eight minutes remaining. Following a 31-yard punt return by Troyvon Johnson, sophomore running back Javon Moorer punched in a 15-yard touchdown on the ground. The two-point conversion was no good and the Green Devils held onto the slim lead.
The Spartans had two more drives in the game, but both ended in turnovers on downs.
"These games are great, but the games that matter are the ones in our district," Lakewood coach Cory Moore said. "That's why I scheduled these hard games — for us to get ready for our district."
Juniors Rolando Sims and Armani Adams led the way defensively for Lakewood (0-1) with six and four tackles respectively. Senior cornerback Bernard Jackson had an interception in the first quarter.
The Green Devils got solid performances on defense from cornerback Anthony Johnson Jr., Bryce D'Angelo and Brenden Burrows. Johnson had a pick and two pass breakups while D'Angelo had five tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery. Burrows pitched in with a sack of his own.