Lake Wales Survives Turnovers to Top Mulberry, 14-3
Tue. October 09, 2012 at 12:23 a.m. | By Solange Reyner
LAKE WALES' JONTE Sergeant scores a touchdown against Mulberry. (Photo by PIERRE DUCHARME | THE LEDGER )
By SOLANGE REYNER
MULBERRY | If Lake Wales' football team were to be named after a candy bar, it would most certainly be the Butterfinger.
But the Highlanders have seemed to bode well lately despite their slippery grips. Monday's win over Mulberry was another example of that notion despite five turnovers in a 14-3 victory.
"Just terrible," Lake Wales coach Rod Shafer huffed after the game. "You can't drop the ball deep in their territory or throw an interception on a slant. I don't understand. We practice it and practice it but we're fumbling a lot."
That's an understatement. The Highlanders (3-2) lost five fumbles against Immokalee on Sept. 21, had four against George Jenkins two Fridays ago, three against Lake Gibson on Sept. 7 and two against Orlando Jones on August 31.
Those contests, minus the Lake Gibson and Jones game, ended in wins for Lake Wales. Against Mulberry on Monday, the Highlanders threw two interceptions and had three fumbles. Those turnovers could have proved costly had Mulberry taken advantage, but the Panthers (3-3) had their own issues holding onto the ball.
They fumbled three times and threw a costly interception on their last offensive series of the game despite putting together a pretty solid drive.
"I think we had the chance to win it," Mulberry linebacker Jerry Joyce said. "We just have to execute."
They didn't the two times they got past midfield and had to resort to field goal attempts. Kicker Noe Guillen made one count — a 19-yarder in the fourth quarter — and barely missed a 57-yarder in the third.
Lake Wales scored both touchdowns in the first half. After Mulberry went three and out to open the game, Marcus Walker returned a punt about 40 yards to get Lake Wales on Mulberry's 18-yard line.
After a one-yard run by Justin Henderson and two penalties by the Panthers, Lake Wales found itself with first and goal on the 6-yard line looking for an opening. Fullback Jonte Sergeant found it three plays later when he dove one yard up the middle for the score.
Both teams were forced to punt on their next possession but Lake Wales pulled the long stick again in the fumble-fest when a Mulberry player lost the ball on the Panthers' 15-yard line.
Dakarial Scott from Lake Wales recovered it and took it to the 11-yard line to set Lake Wales up.
Four plays later Sergeant found the end zone again, this time on a 3-yard run.
"When we fumble and give you the ball in short territory you should score," Mulberry coach Raleigh Jackson said.
Mulberry looked sluggish at the start and had trouble moving the ball until late in the second quarter when Jarius Garner, a senior, helped put a nice little drive together.
Garner rushed for 34 yards on four plays but then fumbled the snap on the next play for a loss of nine yards. Two more run plays produced losses and time expired.
Mulberry's defense helped keep the Panthers in the game in the second half. Rashad Parrish and Tyrik Johnson each had an interception and Joyce and Henry Berry forced fumbles.
Lake Wales 7 7 0 0 - 14
Mulberry 0 0 0 3 - 3
LW — Jonte Sergeant 1 run (Tate Mathewson kick), 7:07.
LW — Sergeant 2 run (Mathewson kick), 11:19
M — Noe Guillen 19-yard field goal, 8:53
LW | M
First downs 7 5
Rushes/Yards 37-109 27-57
Passing 3-7-2 5-8-1
Passing Yards 28 32
Total Yards 137 89
Fumbles/Lost 3-3 3-3
Punts/avg. 2-29.5 5-34.2
Penalties/Yards 2-9 6-45
Records 3-2 3-3
Rushing: LW - Justin Henderson 17-58; M - Jarius Garner 9-21.
Passing: LW - Railond Garrett 3-7-2; M - Austin Strickland 5-8-1.
Receiving: LW Davion Riley 2-26; M - Lorenz Berry 1-18.