ST. PETERSBURG — With two straight losses following an 8-0 start and after a first-round bye, it took Lakewood nearly a half to shake the rust off in Friday night’s Class 4A, Region 3 semifinal against Belle Glade Glades Central.
The host Spartans (9-3) lived up to their top-seed billing, with touchdowns just before and just after the half in a 27-12 win.
“It’s always tough to get it back going again,” Lakewood coach Cory Moore said.
With both teams struggling on offense, Lakewood mounted a late scoring drive capped by the first of two Anthony Colandrea touchdown passes to Diezel Spann. That 47-yard connection on a crossing pattern into the left corner of the end zone came with less than four minutes to play in the second quarter and finished off a five-play, 74-yard drive.
“The guys kind of pulled it together; settled down a little bit and just played Lakewood football,” Moore said.
The next touchdown did not take long at all with T.J. Adams returning the opening kickoff of the second half 89 yards right up the middle of the Glades Central special teams unit.
“I just saw the hole wide open and I hit it,” Adams said of his first kickoff return for a touchdown this season.
The teams traded touchdowns the rest of the way. The Raiders finished off a 10-play, 61-yard drive when 6-foot-6 offensive lineman Santonio Minus lined up in the backfield and plunged into the end zone from a yard out.
The Spartans bounced right back with Colandrea and Spann hooking up on a 31-yard touchdown pass, and Mike Evans followed up with a two-point conversion run for a 21-6 lead. Glades Central’s Kamarion Burey and Lakewood’s Montravius Lloyd traded scoring runs in the fourth quarter to account for the final margin.
Lakewood’s defense stymied several Glades Central possessions with timely sacks and turnovers in the second half. Terrell Crosby and Evans had interceptions on Garrison Kepley throws, and Pharee Reed recovered a fumble. Sacks came from Lloyd and Rashard Hartwell.
“The defense was flying around tonight,” Moore said. “They did a good job at stepping up and applying some pressure.”