A promising start turned sour for Lakewood in its home opener on Thursday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The Lancers scored on their opening drive, and only trailed by eight points in the third quarter, but visiting North Torrance scored the last 27 points of the game on its way to a 48-13 victory.
North Torrance quarterback Trevor Lagarde was the difference in the game as he completed 15 of his 20 pass attempts for 294 yards and six touchdowns. The junior hit receiver Dylan Williams for a 59-yard touchdown on the first play of the second half to extend the Saxons lead to 21-7. Williams made a nice play on a deflection to secure the catch and score down the near sideline.
“Coming out of the half that was a freak play with the tip and they scored,” Lakewood coach Justin Utupo said. “Plays like that take the air out of your team and we’ve got to be able to respond when things like that happen. That’s where we have to turn to our leaders and coaches on the sideline to keep the group together. We have to answer and make plays ourselves.”
Lakewood (0-2) answered the North Torrance score in the third quarter with a Brayden Downen 24-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Slaughter. However, Lagarde hit his favorite target Jacob Wicker twice on the ensuing drive to score again. They connected on a 22 yard pass, and then went over the top for a 41-yard touchdown. Lakewood wouldn’t score again.
The Lancers didn’t do themselves any favors with three turnovers and 12 penalties that added up to more than 100 yards.
“Give it up to North Torrance they’re a good program but at the end of the day Lakewood beat Lakewood,” Utupo said. “You’re not going to win football games with 12 penalties.”
Lakewood started the game fast with a nine-play scoring drive set up by a nice kick return by Devon Bush. Downen finished the drive with a quarterback sneak at the goal line to put the Lancers up 7-0.
North Torrance (3-0) answered with a scoring drive on its first possession as well with Legarde’s first touchdown pass to Wicker. The senior receiver finished the game with 108 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches.
Both teams drove into the red zone on their second possession of the game. Lakewood’s drive stalled due to penalties, and North Torrance scored on a fourth down touchdown pass from Legarde to Anu Kaina that gave the Saxons a 14-7 lead they would take to halftime.
The Lancers drove into the red zone again before halftime, but Williams picked off Downen near the goal line to end the drive and the half.
Downen completed passes to seven different receivers and finished the night 17/30 for 187 yards and a touchdown but threw three interceptions.
Lakewood running back Auggie Lyons gained 64 yards on just eight carries, but he and fellow running back Zion Smith were also forced to play defense because of injures. Both had to come out of the game due to leg cramps in the second half.
“If we can get healthy and all of our guys back I think we can put winning football together,” Utupo said. “I know this team is better than 0-2 right now. I can see where it can go bad if guys start to go off and do their own thing but we’ve got to stay together. It’s a long season and I know this group can turn things around.”
Lakewood is scheduled to host Mayfair next week in the Milk Bucket rivalry game.