The Titusville football team got off to a terrific start during the first game at the new and improved Carter Field on Friday night.
Unfortunately for the Rockets, it was Lakeview celebrating on that shiny new turf by the end of the night, as the Sailors used a 34-point second quarter to claim a 41-7 season-opening victory.
“I’m very happy,” said Lakeview head coach William Hickman. “We’ve got some stuff to clean up. But my hat’s off to Titusville. Regardless of the score, the played a good football game. They’re going to get better. That’s team is going to win some football games.”
Titusville head coach Bryan Baldwin agreed with Hickman that the wins aren’t that far out of the Rockets’ grasp. It was there in spurts last night. But the home team just shot itself in the foot way too many times.
“It’s there, we showed sparks,” said Baldwin. “We showed we’ve got it. We’ve just got to fix some stuff and get back at it.”
Several of those sparks came early. For instance, on the game’s first play from scrimmage, Brock Covell took the handoff and fired through the left side for a 38-yard gain down to the Sailors’ 16. However, the Rockets’ drive stalled shortly after.
Then Lakeview’s first possession ended fourth plays in on a fumble that was recovered by Titusville’s Lodge Nosko on the Sailor 20.
Titusville didn’t let this opportunity escape them. Six plays later, Rockets quarterback Garrett Knapp dove into the end zone from a yard out. Clark Bromley kicked the extra point. And Titusville had itself a 7-0 lead.
Lakeview then fumbled away its second possession. This one was recovered by Titusville’s Braden Johnson. However, the Rockets offense went three-and-out.
The first quarter switched to the second quarter. And something switched in the Sailors as well.
Twenty-two seconds into the period, the Sailors’ Aiden Osborn ended a seven-play, 66-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run.
Then on the first play of Lakeview’s next possession, Sailors QB Gavin Murdock took a keeper around the right side, got a couple nice blocks, and then outraced the Titusville defense for a 65-yard touchdown, making it 13-7.
Then on the first play of Lakeview’s next possession, the Sailors’ Calogano Wilkins went streaking down the right sideline and got behind the secondary. Murdock laid a pass right in Wilkins’ arms and he was off to the house for a 77-yard score.
In three straight offense plays Lakeview had amassed a 20-7 lead.
The Sailors weren’t done either. Their next possession went 55 yards in seven plays and ended with Murdock connecting with Mitchell Tingley for a 20-yard passing score.
Murdock would eventually complete 8 of 13 pass attempts for 175 yards and two touchdowns. He would also lead the Lakers on the ground with 94 yards on 15 carries.
“We didn’t have him contained in the beginning,” Baldwin said about Murdock. “He was reading and getting outside on us. You can’t do that with an athlete like that.”
Then in the final minute of the second period, Titusville fumbled the ball away. Tingley scooped it up in the backfield and went 30 yards for a touchdown, making it 34-7.
“You can’t put yourself behind the 8-ball,” said Baldwin. “We let it spiral out of control.”
The second half of the game was very different. After a 286-yard first half, Lakeview only amassed 13 more yards of offense in the second.
“I talked to the team at halftime,” said Baldwin. “I brought it to them: ‘We’ve got to stay as a team, as we have been all summer.’ They came out and answered that bell as far as being a team and staying together.”
Meanwhile, Titusville was ripping off some pretty big plays. However, here’s where the foot-shooting starts.
The Rockets’ had three nice plays in their first possession of the half, but turned the ball over on a fumble.
On their third drive, two blocking penalties wiped out some big runs by Jaxon Covell and Kolin Baker.
A couple more penalties had Titusville backed up against their end zone. Then the Rockets ran a play, seemingly out of spite, and ended up spinning some weird gold.
Instead of punting the ball out of the end zone, Titusville hiked it to Knapp. He passed it down to Covell on the left sideline. Covell bobbled the ball, but then reeled it in. He sidestepped a couple defenders and took off, eventually getting caught at the Sailors’ 26.
However, on the next play, Titusville fumbled the ball away.
They would put the football on the new turf eight times last night, losing it three times.
The third time came in the fourth quarter when Baker was trying to throw a pass. The ball slipped out of his hands and right into the grip of a Sailors’ lineman. The lineman fumbled it. However, Tingley was right there. He scooped and scored on a 50-yard return, his second fumble return touchdown of the night.
“We’ve got some pretty high aspirations,” said Hickman. “We’re not going to get high on this. We have some stuff to clean up. But I feel that we’re a very dangerous football team. We just have to clean up the slow starts.” w