FREEPORT—Brent Massey added the Lakers’ lone TD at Freeport on Friday night, Sept. 20 – by the time he managed to do so, though, his boys were far too far behind and seriously short on time.

Final score: 38-8, Falcons.

“We had some opportunities to change the game,” Lake Region head coach Mike Shea said, “and we fell short. But that’s life sometimes.”

Double-covered near the Falcons’ end-zone, Laker Isaac Holland can’t secure a pass attempt. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Freeport jumped out front on just the second play of the game, when senior runningback Adam Ulrickson carried home a long TD for six and senior fullback Colby Petrin added a conversion for two more. 8-0.

Massey powerfully returned the ensuing kickoff for first and 10 at LRHS’s own 37. Brandon Sargent and Isaac Rawson – both of whom also had solid nights, on the whole – carried on the Lakers’ first series, but found themselves held to minimal gains. On fourth and 10, QB Ethan McMurray unleashed his first throw attempt, but it fell incomplete and Lake Region turned the ball over on downs.

The Lakers’ own defense held up on Freeport’s next drive, and Tre Morris soon punted for the Falcons. McMurray then ran a couple QB-keepers, converting the second for a first down; Massey and McMurray combined for another first down on runs and McMurray threw a 23-yard pass to River Hoeflich for yet another.

LRHS was on the move, but their momentum soon dried up. Two McMurray passes – one to Isaac Holland and the other to Mike Ross – both fell incomplete. Holland dropped his, a back-shoulder throw near the sideline and not an easy catch to make, and Ross never had a chance under good coverage by Falcon Danny Casale.

Freeport scored once more on their next series: QB Anthony Pancicocco fired a screen pass to Caden Benedict and Benedict broke away from the pack for a 42-yard TD; Ulrickson added the two-point conversion. 16-0, two minutes to go in the first quarter.

Shea did not mince words when asked about his boys’ uphill half. “For the first half, we came out completely flat: We were lazy, we thought that we were going to come in and roll this team because we won two football games.”

The Lakers’ offensive line springs into action as the ball is snapped. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

“That’s what they were: They were confident – they were cocky,” Shea said of the Lakers. “We could play with Freeport; we showed that we could play with them. We could move the ball, and we showed we could move the ball. But when you compound mistakes on defense with big plays, penalties, and bad field position – along with being lazy and cocky – this is what happens.”

The Falcons hashed two more scores before the break. First, Pancicocco hit Aidan Michaud with a short pass and Michaud broke away (much like Ulrickson and Benedict had) for 36 yards and six points. Pancicocco hit Michaud again for the two-point conversion. Then, Morris broke away on the run, ditching Hoeflich’s try at a tackle and outpacing Rawson up the length of the field for an 84-yarder. Petrin added the two-point conversion.

32-0 after two

Ulrickson, Benedict, Michaud and Morris: All tallied points on big plays. If Lake Region could cease giving up those big plays, they wouldn’t look so much like the Falcons were manhandling them.

“What I’ve been talking about down there,” Shea said, nodding at the end of the field where he’d just finished debriefing his boys, “is it’s a humbling experience. We’re not the best football team in the State of Maine. We’re not better than Freeport. And how can we fix that? And for me, it was a lot effort: Not tackling guys and not being able to make those big stops on those big runs. That is effort for me.”

Happily, Lake Region flipped their efforts upside-down in the latter quarters, giving up just one more touchdown – and making Freeport work for it, to boot. Petrin scored on a two-yard run. Ross then thwarted Benedict on the two-point attempt.

The Lakers matched the Falcons’ scoring through the last 24 minutes, too, doing so after a long drive late in the fourth. Rawson began the push with a top-quality kickoff return, a roughly 33-yard plunge to first and 10 at the Lakers’ 46.

Ethan McMurray throws for Lake Region. McMurray looked bold and capable against the Falcons, even if he missed on a number of attempts. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Sargent carried for four, then two; McMurray hit Rawson for five; Massey carried for five; McMurray carried for five. Soon, McMurray missed Holland on a throw and the Lakers found themselves facing fourth and one at Freeport’s 20. McMurray ran, scooting three yards for a first, after which Massey grabbed 14 more. First and goal, Lake Region, at the Falcons’ four.

Massey drove and dove up the middle for those final four, and McMurray added a two-point conversation after that. But under 4:00 remained on the clock. Lake Region fell.

“Absolutely,” Shea said, asked if he was satisfied with the night-and-day difference between his boys’ first half and their second half. “I challenged them to be tougher, toughen up, to go play football the way we can play football. Unfortunately, it was too late. They did it, they took the challenge, they accepted it, they went out there, they weren’t afraid and they played a hard half of football.”

High school football is often ground-and-pound, but to Lake Region’s credit, they weren’t afraid to let McMurray throw the ball. That’s a critical willingness to have when an opponent is blistering you.

McMurray missed on a number of throws, and at other times, his receivers failed to reel in balls they should’ve reeled in. But McMurray & Co. also connected for good yardage now and again, too.

“Ethan left a lot of completions on the table; a couple of big balls we threw just weren’t good balls,” Shea said. “But that’s high school football. I’m happy with his run game, with how tough he was tonight, what his leadership skills were like.”

Brent Massey tries to ditch a determined Freeport tackler. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

“Especially when we’re in situations like second and 10, third and long, we have to take risks,” Shea said. “Our offense isn’t really designed for that. We need to move the ball on first down and keep rolling, move the chains. If we’re stuck with a penalty, second and long, third and long, we have to open the ball up. That’s the only way to move the ball, especially when we’re down by 16 points right off the bat.”

Shea accepted praise for some of his boys’ work, especially that of Holland, Rawson, Massey and Sargent. “Yeah,” he said, “we have a good group of kids. Our offensive line did not have a good performance. My skill guys can only be as good as our offensive line. And that’s where it started and where it ended tonight, in my opinion.”

“I think it’s a great wake-up call,” Shea said. “I think they’ve finally realized we’re not the best team in the country, the best team in Maine – were not the best team against Freeport. These guys had a bad week of practice: They were lazy, they were loose.”

“They’re ready to keep playing football,” Shea said. “This was a great, humbling experience for us.”

Lake Region’s River Hoeflich dogfights a Freeporter for possession of a pass attempt. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Lineman Nick Hall readies himself for the snap. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Isaac Rawson carries for Lake Region. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Brent Massey dives over the Falcons’ goal line, tallying the Lakers’ lone TD. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Ethan McMurray runs a QB-keeper for the Lakers. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

 

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