But in the end, it was too many turnovers for the Lakers as the home team sailed away with a 42-14 victory.
“We’ve gotta execute,” said a disappointed Lakers’ coach Jerry Rabideau after the game. “You’re not going to win many games turning the ball over five times.”
The Lakers fumbled the ball on their first three possessions — including their opening drive, which covered nearly 80 yards before the ball came loose inside the Sailors’ 10 yard line.
Those turnovers helped Mona Shores’ explosive offense score on its first three drives, including a pair of touchdown runs by bruising fullback Darnell Longmire and a Desmond Howard-type diving catch in the end zone by Asantay Brown.
It would have been easy for the Lakers to roll over and play dead. Instead, the Lakers took the Sailors’ best punches and came out swinging.
Spring Lake scored its first touchdown off a special teams blunder by Mona Shores. A Lakers’ punt hit off a Sailors’ player, and Spring Lake recovered at the Sailors’ 24-yard line. A few plays later, quarterback Jake Chittenden broke through a pair of tacklers at the goal line and scored from 5 yards out.
A two-point run came up short.
The Lakers got the ball back, and a 20-yard run by Charlie Warber gave Spring Lake good field position. Another fumble nearly cost the Lakers, but Spring Lake recovered, and on the very next play, Chittenden hit Warber for a 30-yard touchdown. Chittenden then connected with Jonny Mudnt for the two-point conversion, making it 22-14 at the half.
“That second quarter, we just got ourselves settled in and ran our offense,” Rabideau said.
The Lakers had a chance to tie the game early in the third, driving down the field before Chittenden’s pass was intercepted in the end zone by Mona Shores’ Marquon Sargent.
A few plays later, Sargent hauled in a pass from Jackson and sprinted to the end zone.
Longmire added his third touchdown of the game later in the third quarter, then Chris Bradford scored in the fourth for a 42-14 lead.
The Sailors had the ball inside the 5-yard line late in the game, but took a knee.
Mona Shores’ offense was startlingly efficient both on the ground (266 yards) and through the air (276).
Longmire ran for 134 yards on 19 carries, while Bradford added 88 yards.
Jackson finished an efficient 13-of-18 for 276 yards and a pair of scores. His favorite target was Brown, who hauled in eight catches for 162 yards and a pair of scores.
“Defensively, we thought we’d be able to do a better job against them,” Rabideau said. “They just had better X’s than our O’s. I was impressed with their speed. We didn’t have anyone who could contain them.”
The Lakers ran for 168 yards, led by Marlin Ingals’ 77 yards on 17 carries. Chittenden added 31 yards rushing and was 5-of-9 passing for 86 yards and a score. He was picked off twice.
Chittenden also led the Lakers on defense with nine tackles. Jonny Mundt added six stops while Jakob Frederick added 5.5 stops.
Sailors’ coach Matt Koziak has liked what he’s seen from his team through two games. The Sailors have outscored their opponents, 84-18.
“I’m very pleased with how the offense is playing, and I’m pleased with our defense 80 percent of the time,” Koziak said. “We came out on fire with three takeaways, but then in the second quarter, they started going up and down the field on us.
“Spring Lake had a great game plan. This could have easily been quite a bit different score-wise.”
The Lakers (1-1) will open league play next Friday with a critical matchup at rival Fruitport.
Junior Varsity: Spring Lake suffered a 14-0 loss to Mona Shores on Wednesday.