Whitt’s 2 scores propel Lakeview over Howland
By BOB ETTINGER
Lakeview football coach Tom Pavlansky was in need of someone who could give the Bulldogs some bite.
Dakota Whitt broke free of his leash and led his team on two second-quarter scoring drives as Lakeview toppled rival Howland, 14-9, in the season-opener Friday night at Don Richards Memorial Stadium.
“Dakota is a senior and he’s worked very hard,” Pavlansky said. “He wants a career-best year. Like a lot of the guys, he’s likes to have the ball in his hands. When the ball’s in his hands, he’s a threat.
“Last year, he was more of a factor defense than offense, but there were never any doubts in what Dakota can do.”
Just more than midway through the second quarter, the Bulldogs were locked in a 0-0 tie and struggling to get much going. After a punt return to the Howland 23, it took Lakeview just six plays to get in the end zone.
On third and four from the 9, Whitt powered for a first down. He pushed his way four yards and into the end zone on the next play and the Bulldogs led, 7-0, with 2:55 to play in the half.
“I committed to the blocks and just ran,” Whtt said. “It felt great. I was running the ball the best I can for the team.”
After forcing a punt on the ensuing possession for the Tigers, Whitt pounded his way through the heart of the Howland defense for 28 yards and another third-down conversion.
Two plays later, he pushed the pile to score from the two for a 14-0 Lakeview lead with 12.6 seconds remaining in the half.
“More than anything else, I think we settled in,” Pavlansky said. “A lot of guys, especially on the offensive line, were playing for the first time.
“They settled in and were confident. They pushed the jitters away. We got the ball in the hands of our skill guys and we feel we have some solid guys back there.”
Whitt finished with 111 yards and the two scores on 26 carries.
“He’s a great quarterback,” Howland coach Steve Boyle said. “I wish him the best season. He’s definitely the leader of that offense.”
The Tigers struggled to move the ball most of the night, especially on the ground. They were held to a single yard on eight attempts in the first half and finished with 34 yards on 22 carries.
“We’ve got to learn to run the football,” Boyle said. “We have to establish the run game. If we don’t, it’s going to be a long season.”
Howland put its first points on the board following a seven-play possession. Luke Brancaccio booted a 36-yard field goal to make it 14-3 with 5:37 to go in the third.
With a minute to play in the fourth, Jordan Fronzaglio hit Nathan Barrett with a 14-yard scoring strike to make it 14-9. The two-point conversion pass failed.