Heading into Friday night’s non-league contest against San Pedro, Lakewood coach Justin Utupo said his team needed to take care of the football and get off to a fast start offensively against one of the favorites for the CIF Los Angeles City Section title.
The Lancers hit one of those marks on their opening drive Friday night as they took an early lead when Brayden Downen found Anthony Alvarez for an 18-yard touchdown to give Lakewood the early advantage.
But the fast start wasn’t enough as Lakewood turned the ball over four times and the Pirates took advantage on their way to a 48-20 victory at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“I challenged our offense to start fast and I think we did that,” Utupo said. “Then as the game went on we turned the ball over four times and they scored three times. Against a good team you can’t turn the ball over.”
Quarterback Aidan Jackson and the Pirates answered right back after back-to-back punts when Jackson found Elijah Thorp for a 40-yard touchdown to cut Lakewood’s lead to 7-6 after a failed two-point conversion.
The next Lancers drive ended on a fumble and the Pirates responded with another score as Jackson found Kejuan Bullard for a 29-yard touchdown to give San Pedro a 12-7 lead after another failed two-point conversion attempt.
San Pedro (5-1) didn’t waste any time getting back on the scoreboard in the second half as Jackson found Bullard for a 31-yard gain, and then kept the ball himself and scored on a one-yard touchdown run to give the Pirates a 20-7 lead.
After an interception on the ensuing Lakewood drive, the Lancers defense came up with a big stop and the Lakewood went to work as Downen led the offense 85 yards and scored on a 1-yard keeper to cut San Pedro’s lead to 20-14 with 1:33 left in the third.
That was as close as the Lancers got as Jackson and the Pirates responded with a 43-yard catch-and-run by Chris Nixon to go up 28-14.
The Lancers’ offense hurt itself on the next drive as a fumble led to a touchdown as the Pirates took a 35-14 just 30 seconds into the fourth quarter. Jackson finished the game with 206 yards passing and five touchdowns total.
“Hats off to Pedro,” Utupo said. “Those guys have a chance to win the City Section and I think they can get it done. We got to take the positives though – we’re playing a good team and we’re right there where the game is right there in our hands. If we can just take care of the football, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
With it being a non-league game, the Lancers rested some starters to prepare for their huge Moore League contest against Wilson on Thursday at Veterans Memorial Stadium. A win will give Lakewood a stranglehold on third place in league.