Howland fumbled on its first play in overtime against Lakeside.
By JOHN BASSETTI
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
HOWLAND -- After playing 48 hard minutes in regulation, the last thing you want is a fumble.
That's exactly what happened to Howland on its first play in overtime as the Tigers were upended by Ashtabula Lakeside, 20-14, Thursday night.
All night, Lakeside kept answering Howland's effort. It was especially important in the final four minutes of regulation.
That's when Lakeside pushed into Howland territory, then punted to the Tigers' 9-yard line. The Dragons kept Howland in check, then had a 23-yard punt return by Jamarro Spikes to set up the tying touchdown with 1:24 remaining.
After winning the toss and deciding to go on defense first in overtime, Mycal Conel recovered Lance Smith's fumble. Three plays later, on 3rd and 11, Spikes took a pitch from quarterback Brandon Hanna and followed his blockers into the end zone for the clinching six points.
"He's an elusive, great back, but he won't take all the credit," Lakeside coach Jay Corlew said of his tailback. "He'll give it to the rest of the guys. It was a great team effort to come down here in this atmosphere on a first-game night. I couldn't ask more than what I got out of our team tonight."
In overtime, after a holding penalty pushed the Dragons back to the 21-yard line, Corlew had no doubt who would carry the ball.
"We just wanted to put the ball in the hands of the guy who we thought was going to make a play for us and he came up big. We were sloppy at times, offensively, but we did enough to get the job done. Our line came through great and I thought quarterback Hanna did a good job executing what we asked him to do."
Defense played well
Lakeside's defense, too, did its part.
After giving up possession via punt at 4:02, Howland had its back up against the wall.
"I told our defensive guys that they've got to come up big for us," Corlew said. "We got the ball back and had a nice punt return to get us in a good spot and we took it in from there with a minute to go."
When Lakeside had third down in overtime, Spikes wasn't the only option.
"I thought we had a shot for a field goal with kicker Jordan Newsome. But then we thought we'd try out bread and butter play -- an outside sweep. There was a great block by [fullback Jaimie] Frasure and Spikes cut it back and we got paydirt," said Corlew.
Howland coach Dick Angle pinpointed a few turning points, but the fumble was No. 1.
"You can't turn it over at all, especially in an opening game, especially against a quality football team. We had our opportunities, but we're going to kick ourselves. Lakeside was able to come from behind twice and win."
Game winning sweep
Spikes' had a wall of blockers behind him for the game-winning right sweep.
"We were gambling on some alignments and they guessed right. When they guess right, you're out-manned. In that overtime drive, we were not in a defense for what they did. But they executed well.
Another turning point was after Howland held them with four minutes to go.
"All we needed was a first down. When they gave up the ball, they didn't go flat. Their defense rose to the occasion and prevented us from getting a first down and that put us in a real bad situation. We didn't get a great punt off and they got a great return. You can't give a team a first down at the 12-yard line and expect to hold them."
Smith had Howland's first touchdown on a 4-yard run and Aaron Womack caught a 10-yard pass from Ben Leece for the second tally. Brian Paczak made both point-after kicks.