SPARTA – Coming off a huge, emotional win last week, the Lakers fell victim to mental mistakes and a tough opponent. Head coach Dan Start felt his team was humbled this week.
“Football can humble you in a hurry. You think you’re on top of the world and then you come out and someone punches you in the mouth and you don’t quite respond,” Start said. “You can kind of figure out who you are. For us we have to figure out who we are as a team and what kind of character we are going to have.”
The Lakers got the ball first, but the Spartans took the first lead when quarterback Jakel Davis put the games first points on the board with a quarterback draw. Sparta went for two but failed, making their lead 6-0 with five minutes and 13 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Davis would soon use his legs to add another touchdown to the Spartan lead early in the second quarter. Spring Lake was down 12-0 with just under 11 minutes remaining in the second quarter.
The Lakers had their first big drive after Steve Ready put his team in great field position with a big kick return. This was the first time all night the Lakers got into Spartan territory. The offense used the field position to put points on the board by way of a Matt Bierman field goal, making the score 12-3.
The Lakers looked as if they had caught a big break after the Spartans had an errant snap sailed over the head of their punter, but an unnecessary roughness call took the ball from the 21-yard line to the 36-yard line. Sparta would make three big stops and force fourth and long. The Lakers decided to go for it, but quarterback Zach Keyser threw an interception and big return by the Spartans set them up at the Lakers’ 31-yard line. The ensuing play Davis would find his running back Deondray Thomas wide open in the middle of the field for a touchdown. Spring Lake again thwarted the 2-point conversion attempt by Sparta and went into halftime trailing 18-3.
The Lakers caught a major break on the first play to start the second half when Davis fumbled the snap and Bierman recovered it to give Spring Lake the ball on the 33-yard line. Davis would quickly make up for his fumble by forcing a fumble of his own on a fourth down attempt for the Lakers, leading to a scoop and score by Justin Mentalewicz, bringing the Sparta lead to 24-3.
With under two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Davis put another touchdown on the board, making it his fourth game and a successful PAT gave Sparta 31-3 lead. On the following play, a fumble by Ready was scooped up by the Spartans, extending their lead to 38-3.
There would be no more scoring after that point and the Lakers dropped the game 38-3.This loss brings the Lakers’ record to 1-2 on the season. Spring Lake looks to get back to .500 on the road taking on Coopersville next week.
“This is a journey. This is not a week-by-week thing. This is a year long process and we are young. We’ve got some young players that have got to grow, and we’ve got some seniors that have got to grow in their leadership. We are excited to give them the opportunity to do that.” Start said.