The562’s coverage of Lakewood Athletics is sponsored by J.P. Crawford, Class of 2013.
Tensions were thick as the humidity Friday night at Ron Yary Stadium. The Lakewood Lancers were aiming to reclaim the Milk Bucket for the first time since 2014, and they looked to bounce back to .500. The Lancers offense struggled to get going as the team fell to Mayfair, 27-8.
“The elements were rough, yet we have our own issues to fix. We had plenty of opportunities, but we were often behind the sticks,” said Lancers head coach Justin Utupo. “Every single game moving forward is a must win game.”
Tropical Storm Kay made its presence known the whole game as a consistent precipitation fell on the grass field, worsening as the night went on. The elements would play a critical force throughout the entire game.
Lakewood received the opening kickoff, yet they would cough it up to Mayfair on their own 30 yard line. Lakewood’s defense would make a stand, preventing the stop, and they set the tone early with heavy hits and helmets flying off.
The Monsoons scored first with a quarterback keeper by three-star prospect Evan Tomich at the three minute mark. The PAT attempt was successful, giving the Monsoons a 7-0 lead. Throughout the game, one could hear officials saying “We’re done, we’re done, knock it off!” as opposing players battled each other in each possession.
The Lancers could not find their footing, literally and figuratively, in the slippery grass, as miscues and dropped passes stalled their offense. Mayfair would take advantage of this, as Tomich found an open Gerald Myles III up the right seam before the end of the quarter. It would be 13-0 Mayfair at the first quarter’s end.
At the start of the second, the Lancers had a promising drive, yet a bad snap derailed it and were forced to punt. Frustrations and tempers were boiling over on the Lakewood sideline because of the lack of offense. Monsoons capitalized on these frustrations and a tired Lancers defense with two explosive Tomich to Tomich connections, then an eventual score by Medrick Burnett Jr. It would be 20-0 Monsoons, with 5:16 left in the half.
With it being a rivalry game, mutual animosity became more physical as the game continued. By the mid-second quarter, there were plenty of ‘extra curriculars’ after each play. It felt as if after every other play going forward, there was a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct, taunting, or unnecessary roughness.
The Lancers would try to score by half’s end; however, dropped passes and sacks would run the clock out. It was 20-0 Monsoons heading back to the locker rooms.
Precipitation would fall more heavily by the second half’s start, and that provided some life into Lakewood. On Mayfair’s second drive in the second half (seventh drive in the game), a fumble, penalties, and botched snap would cause a sack in the endzone, giving the Lancers a safety and momentum. It was 20-2 Mayfair with 7:49 left in the third.
With this momentum, the Lancers drove down the field, and they converted two crucial fourth downs. Knocking on Mayfair’s goal line, a snap over quarterback Brayden Downen’s head wrecked the Lancers’ opportunity. With 25 seconds in the quarter, Lancers called timeout to draw a trick play on fourth down, but it failed with a botched handoff causing a turnover on downs, ending the third.
With under five minutes left, the Tomich brothers would connect one last time for the dagger, putting Mayfair up 27-2.
Downen would score the Lances’ only touchdown with twelve seconds left in the game, failing the two point conversion. Mayfair received the kick off, kneed in V-formation, and keeping the Milk Bucket trophy with a final score of 27-8.
Lakewood (1-3) face Long Beach Poly (4-0) to start their Moore League schedule on Sept. 16. “This is an opportunity game for us to get [Poly] at the start, so we can attack them early,” said Utupo. Kick off is at 7 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium.