ST. PETERSBURG — For undefeated Lakewood, the dream season came to an end on Friday. The previously undefeated Spartans had a chance to take control of the District 5A-8 standings with a victory over Tampa (Fla.) Jesuit. However, the Tigers took control early and never relinquished the lead in rolling to a 33-19 win over the host Spartans.
Jesuit (7-1) clinched a district championship with the win. Lakewood, which dropped to a record of 6-1 with the loss, will need to beat Robinson next week to qualify for the state playoffs.
Florida State commitment Dante Fowler, in his second game back from a three-game suspension, was rendered largely ineffective by a superb gameplan from the Jesuit coaching staff. They used senior offensive line prospect Robert Gibbons along with contributions from a number of tight ends (including highly-regarded sophomore Vincent Jackson) to great success against the All-American defensive end.
“Our guys played with a lot of poise. They had big five-star Dante Fowler over there. We wanted to come in here and make a statement, and we rose to the occasion,” Jesuit coach James Harrell said after the game.
Jesuit junior wide receiver Travis Johnson had a 20-yard touchdown catch from senior quarterback Tommy Eveld, and seemed to come up with the key plays all night for the Tigers. Johnson (6-3, 205) already claims an offer from the Gators among the numerous BCS programs to extend interest to the Class of 2013 star.
“He had an outstanding game,” Harrell noted of Johnson. “I don’t know all the numbers, but I know when we needed a play, Tommy felt comfortable going to him. He never disappointed us on either side of the ball.”
Jesuit got off to a fast start when senior linebacker Nicolas Otheguy intercepted an option pass from Lakewood quarterback Tracy Johnson and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown at the 7:30 mark of the first quarter.
In a losing effort, junior wide receiver Rodney Adams accounted for two receiving touchdowns for Lakewood. His first, a four-yard score on a jump ball from Johnson cut the Jesuit lead to 14-6 with 3:46 left to go in the first half.
Sophomore wide receiver Donterio Fowler, the younger brother of Dante, also contributed with an impressive 10-yard touchdown catch that he nabbed off of the deflection from a pair of Jesuit defenders who were in the front corner of the end zone. His score brought Lakewood to within a score once again, at 20-13, with 10:56 to go in the game.
Things got a little crazy after that.
On the ensuing drive, after Lakewood forced Jesuit to punt, the Spartans would muff the kick – giving the ball right back to the Tigers. Jesuit would respond with a five-yard touchdown run from Will Lucas, and looked to have put the game away at 26-13.
However, Lakewood came right back with a 82-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Adams – their second connection of the night – as Lakewood cut the lead to 26-19, with 7:19 to play.
But then, things came unglued for Lakewood. Jesuit went into ball-control mode, going on a long, time-consuming drive. The defensive effort for Lakewood was compounded by several penalties – including one play where Dante Fowler was flagged for both offsides and roughing the passer – allowing Jesuit to get 20 free yards. Another Will Lucas touchdown, this one from seven yards out, salted the game away for Jesuit.
Check back with Gator Country over the weekend for plenty of coverage on Dante Fowler (including a GCTV interview), and stories on several top underclass prospects to keep an eye on from Jesuit-Lakewood.