42-32 road victory gives South Lakes sole possession of first place in the Liberty District
“I’m just happy we walked out of there with a win.” That was a feeling from head coach Jason Hescock immediately following the game on Friday which saw the Seahawks commit several errors in the first quarter in what became a tight contest against an improved Highlander squad.
After South Lakes took the early lead on a Dylan White score, McLean responded with a field goal on their first possession; then things got interesting.
The previously unbeaten Highlanders scored off a tipped ball after a member of the Seahawks secondary nearly intercepted the long pass. During the ensuing kickoff, the Seahawk returner slipped, and the ball was placed deep in South Lakes territory only to be followed by a high snap which thankfully sailed out the back of the endzone for a safety. A 7-3 lead quickly turned into a 12-7 deficit within a matter of seconds and with the home team on a roll.
The South Lakes defense was able to hold off the next McLean attack with an interception by senior Andrew Benedetto and was able to regain the lead after an impressive 90-yard drive that consumed over 6 minutes of the clock and included an acrobatic catch by Nick Haitz and culminated by a 5 yard run from quarterback Marcus Miles. A successful onside kick by the Seahawk’s special team group was erased by a turnover and McLean score.
South Lakes was able to regain the lead for good after a 49-yard catch and run by Nick Haitz. Senior Gabe Gibson blocked the subsequent McLean punt and set up excellent field position for Dylan White to earn his second touchdown on the night with a 1-yard dive to close out the scoring in what was an eventful first half.
“At the half we talked about mistakes,” Coach Hescock said after the game. Hescock told the team “Imagine if we just executed. If we do the small things right, we will work through it. After that first quarter, we could have imploded but we competed and found a way….”
Although there would be another Seahawk turnover and score by the Highlanders in the second half, Anthony Giordano was able to seal the victory with both a receiving and rushing touchdown; the latter score setup by an Ian Tobias interception with McLean driving.
Marcus Miles threw for over 200 yards and 2 touchdowns and Dylan White led all rushers with 133 yards on the ground and 2 scores. Jeremy Semelfort led the defense with 7 tackles and a sack.
“Overall thoughts are that we found a way to win…we made mistake after mistake, but we still won by 10 points…there is so much to work on…it’s not just one person that made mistakes tonight...whether it was high snaps or missed assignments in the secondary, as a team we need folks that can help finish the deal.”
The Seahawks defense was shorthanded on the evening with two starters unable to play in addition to two others that have not been able to suit up so far this year.
Hescock called it “pure gamesmanship” that he had some of those players participate in warmups as to not tip his hand to McLean before kickoff, but he expects at least one of those players to return for the next contest against Washington-Liberty.
Last season, South Lakes defeated Washington-Liberty but the Generals intercepted Marcus Miles 3 times and made things difficult for the offense. “W&L had a great defensive game plan for us last year so we will need to be on our toes this week and be ready for a brawl…they deserve our respect. We are playing for a District Championship and missing out on the title last year left a sour taste in our mouth. We do not want to take people lightly…our seniors are doing a great job with keeping the players bought into what we are doing, and we expect that to carry us the rest of the season.”