By John Bassetti
For two teams that were averaging 36.5 and 27.5 points, respectively, in their first three games, Lakeview and Hubbard should have lit up the scoreboard.
Instead, the fans were blitzed by sudden shifts in momentum, close calls and disappointment from failed opportunities that left Lakeview standing a 7-6 winner in an All-American Conference White Tier game.
Zach Rogers was 14 of 23 for 206 yards, including a 36-yard TD pass to Noah Olejnik that put the Bulldogs on the board first in the second quarter, followed by Noah Busefink’s extra-point kick that gave the visitors the eventual margin of victory.
Hubbard’s Tyreq Moorer finished with 162 yards rushing on 30 attempts, but the Eagles didn’t score until 8:22 remained when Lukas Mosora caught a 14-yard pass from Davion Daniels. The PAT, however, failed and Hubbard couldn’t mound another threat.
The sting from the loss was somewhat reminiscent of Lakeview’s 30-27 victory that snapped Hubbard’s 25-game regular-season streak during Week 4 of the 2015 season
Lakeview coach Tom Pavlansky, however, didn’t view Friday’s outcome that way.
“We’re 1-0 in the conference, that’s all it is,” Pavlansky said of his team’s record in the AAC White Tier.
Although Hubbard (2-2, 1-1 AAC) had a 30-minute to 18-minute advantage in time of possession, it didn’t convert into points.
The Eagles nearly scored before halftime after Shannon Slovesko made a spectacular catch while backpeddling. His reception from Daniels put Hubbard at Lakeview’s 4-yard line, but, on the next play, Moorer fumble near the goal line and the ball rolled out of bounds as the second quarter ended.
A mishandled snap on a field-goal attempt ended Hubbard’s first series of the game, then, early in the third quarter, Ray Minniti’s 39-yard TD run was negated by a holding call. Although the drive wasn’t dead, a partially blocked field goal ended the threat for Hubbard.
Following Mosora’s TD, the missed point-after attempt left the Eagles a point short.
Still, Moorer recovered a fumble at Lakeview’s 39 with 2:12 remaining, but Hubbard’s possession lasted just four downs before Lakeview (3-1) got the ball back and ran out the clock.
Hubbard coach Brian Hoffman was reluctant to attribute the loss to bad breaks, but he didn’t hesitate to pin it on “a couple errors and that was the difference in the game.”
Hubbard’s offensive line helped move the Eagles “up and down the field,” Hoffman said, then added, “We played pretty well, offensively, but, against good football teams, you have to make sure that you don’t miss your opportunities and we missed too many opportunities.”
Mosora also recovered a fumble early and Jared Southern had an interception late in the game. Daniels had 20 rushes for 124 yards.
Pavlansky praised Olejnik.
“He’s got some ability and we had really good protection on the play and Zach put the ball in the best place possible and Noah was there to go get it. It’s as simple as that.”
Olejnik ran the far sideline, then, looking over his left shoulder with arms outstretched, let Rogers’ pass fall in his hands.
Of Rogers, Pavlansky said, “He had a progression to go through and we got a one-on-one matchup we wanted and we had the green light to go and just make a play.”
Lakeview’s other bevy of weapons included receivers Drew Munno and Connor Greenwood and backs Evan Adair, Tony Crish and Elijah McMurdy. Clay Lazzari also pitched in.
“We have some skill kids who we’ve got to get in space,” Pavlansky said. “With some players banged up, others stepped up.”