NEWARK — The Newark Catholic soccer team took a 42-7 lead at halftime Friday and posted a 42-25 victory against visiting Lakewood. The win sets up a showdown next Friday when Green Wave (5-1, 3-0) visits Heath (5-3, 3-0) with the Licking County League Cardinal Division championship on the line.
“I was pleased with our execution and our poise in the first half,” NC coach Ryan Aiello said. “I think we lacked a little bit as the game went on, there were some areas where we slacked off a little bit, whether it was execution or tackling. That’s a credit to Lakewood and what they did. We have to make sure we clean up some of those things.”
Although Lakewood (0-8, 0-3) remained winless, the Lancers scored a season-high 25 points and posted a total of 312 yards of offense against a North Carolina team ranked second in the state in the Division VII.
“This game speaks volumes, and I think it helps to try to impress on these guys that what we’re doing is the right thing to do,” said Lakewood coach John Poulnott, whose team visits Johnstown (2-6, 2-1). ) next Friday. “We moved the ball methodically. We were able to get some first downs. Our goal all night was trying to keep their explosive offense off the field. Obviously, they were able to make some big plays at times.”
NC’s big first half was buoyed by the tough run of senior running back Mason Hackett, who had 11 carries for 164 yards and four touchdowns in the first half before going to the bench at the half.
“The offensive line did a great job,” Hackett said. “They created some big holes. I took my opportunity to run through those holes and make some moves on the defenders.”
Second-year quarterback Miller Hutchison completed 10 of 15 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns, both to senior wide receiver Grant Moore.
“Miller and I were able to hook up a couple of times,” Moore said. “I’m proud of him. It looks like a pitch and catch, but it takes everyone doing their job.”
Lakewood junior quarterback Adam Crawford completed 30 of 44 passes for 202 yards and also rushed for a touchdown, and junior wide receiver Isaiah Mitchell had 12 receptions for 74 yards. Lakewood’s Austin Romine had a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown and Randi Adkins also intercepted a pass as the Lancers hung on him in the second half.
“We’re trying to fight adversity and show guys that if they follow the lead of the coaches and do the things that we ask them to do, then success will come,” Poulnott said.
NC drove 56 yards for a touchdown on his first possession. Hackett’s 5-yard touchdown run capped it off.
Lakewood came back and rushed for 65 yards in 11 plays. Crawford completed seven passes on the drive before driving himself into the end zone from 13 yards to tie the score 7-7.
The Green Wave rallied with a 60-yard drive and took a 14-7 lead after Hackett’s 8-yard touchdown run.
NC took full control with a 28-0 second quarter to go up 42-7 at the half. Hutchison hit Moore on a route for a 38-yard TD, and Hackett made a throw to left, rebounded off some tacklers and went down the sideline on a 68-yard TD run.
“Everyone did their job,” Hackett said. “The wide receivers had good perimeter blocks. The O line did a great job. I couldn’t have gotten that with them and their execution out there.”
NC’s Brendan Sheehan then intercepted a Lakewood pass, setting up Hackett’s 18-yard TD run. The lead was 42-7 when Hutchison lobbed Moore for the 8-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds left in the first half.
Early in the third quarter, Lakewood’s Romine stepped in front of an NC pass on the floor and rolled 55 yards for a touchdown that cut the lead to 42-13. Later, Lakewood mounted a 75-yard touchdown drive in 14 plays, which Josh Hicks capped with an 8-yard TD run, and Logan Bush capped an 80-yard possession in 11 plays with an 8-yard TD run to complete the score. with 1:55 left in the game.
The Green Wave finished with 422 total offensive yards for the game with 340 of them coming in their big first half. NC had 238 rushing yards for the game.
“Our philosophy is that you have to set the race,” Aiello said. “That forces teams to carry the box, and then that opens up your passing game. We have to establish that physicality at the line of scrimmage, and we did that well.
“When we start rotating some guys (in the second half), we have to make sure the expectations are just as high,” he added. “We were lucky enough to include some of the younger kids in the game. But again, Lakewood did a great job. We have to correct those mistakes and move forward in a positive way.”