The Lakota East High School football team needed something to kick-start the offense after punting its first three possessions against rival Lakota West on Friday night.
Max Mikkelson’s fumble recovery in the second quarter did the job.
East (5-2, 4-1 Greater Miami Conference) scored on its next three drives, including two plays after the turnover, to take control going into halftime and ended up with a 36-3 win at the Hawks Nest.
WEEK 7 FOOTBALL COVERAGE
The Thunderhawks’ defense had three takeaways and shut out the Firebirds over the last three periods.
“That was huge,” East senior Jack Dobrozsi said of Mikkelson’s fumble recovery. “That instantly changed the game. We had two plays and got that touchdown, and that changed the momentum big time. It got the whole team hyped up and pumped up again.”
West (2-5, 1-4) had taken the first lead on a 42-yard field goal by Nicklas Hjort with 2:12 left in the first quarter, but neither offense had much going for it until West’s David Afari broke a long run and lost the ball.
Mikkelson recovered it on the Hawks’ 36-yard line and East took advantage of the swing, quickly scoring on Sean Church’s 41-yard touchdown pass to Evan Yablonsky to go up 7-3 after Gavin Myers’ kick with 6:23 left before halftime.
“It changed things tremendously,” West coach Jeff Wadl said. “We just came off a long run, and the ball comes out. We’re in a position where we can drive the ball down the field and score, and it deflates you a little when you’re putting your defense right back on the field. We probably turned the ball over more tonight than we have all year. It’s one of the things we really haven’t done a lot of all year, and we really paid for it tonight.”
The Hawks then forced a three-and-out and extended the lead on a 58-yard touchdown run by Dobrozsi before Church found Yablonsky for another score on a 22-yard pass the next drive. Yablonsky’s second touchdown of the night came after a fourth-down stop by the East defense to make it 21-3 with 50 seconds left in the second quarter.
Coming out of halftime, East picked up where it left off, getting two more long touchdowns from Dobrozsi, one for 65 yards and the other for 64 yards, and recovering two more fumbles. One of those fumbles came at the Hawks’ 9-yard line.
The final points came on a safety when Firebirds senior quarterback Deontai Christon was sacked in the end zone.
“Jack, once he gets out in the open, he’s a lot faster than people think and he runs hard,” East coach Rick Haynes said. “Our quarterback did a nice job reading it.”
Dobrozsi started his day early with nerves making him physically ill. He finished the night with 240 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries.
Those scores were his longest of the season and the fastest he said he has ever run.
“I was nervous throughout the whole game because it’s a big game and it’s my last time to play against West,” Dobrozsi said. “I’ve been playing them since seventh grade, and it finally ended today and it ended the right way. You try not to think about it too much because it gets to your head, but it’s all you can think about. This is what you practice for 365 days a year.”
West managed just 214 yards of offense, led by Afari’s 67 yards on 10 carries, and Christon threw for 81 yards, including a long of 39 yards to Dylan Jones.
Church managed East’s triple-option offense effectively, rushing for 20 yards and completing 5-of-9 passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns. Yablonsky finished with 93 yards and two TDs on four catches.
“They were running their offense, and they had four or five explosive plays where Dobrozsi gets out in the open and we don’t tackle the dive, and that’s what that offense is designed to do,” Wadl said. “You’re trying to defend three phases of it and if you don’t defend the dive, you’re going to have a long night, and we didn’t defend it well tonight. We had opportunities to score, but we had turnovers or penalties or we do something that keeps us out of the end zone. We’re our own worst enemy on offense, and tonight really showed that.”
Friday marked the first time the Hawks have beaten their district rival at home. West leads the series 13-9, but all of East’s previous wins came on the road or at a neutral field.
The Hawks will be at home for a showdown against Colerain on Friday, while the Firebirds host Princeton.
Lakota West 3-0-0-0—3
Lakota East 0-21-7-8—36
LW: Nicklas Hjort 42 field goal
LE: Evan Yablonsky 41 pass from Sean Church (Gavin Myers kick)
LE: Jack Dobrozsi 57 run (Myers kick)
LE: Yablonsky 22 pass from Church (Myers kick)
LE: Dobrozsi 65 run (Myers kick)
LE: Dobrozsi 64 run (Myers kick)
LE: Safety, Lakota West quarterback Deontai Christon tackled in end zone
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