With 2:42 left before halftime the lights went out for the Lakeside Knights.
Actually, things turned dark when Lakeside quarterback Ken Pluff’s lights were knocked out. Pluff was steamrolled by three blitzing players after throwing the ball.
Play was stopped for about 10 minutes as Pluff lay on the Kibbie Dome turf surrounded by coaches, players and trainers.
The loss of Pluff was the topper to a game speeding out of control for Lakeside after a thrilling opening quarter that ended with the Knights ahead 24-22.
Deary’s size and speed was too much for Lakeside as the Mustangs held off the Knights 68-54 in an A-4 eight-man football semifinal Friday.
The Mustangs (10-0 overall) advance to the state championship game, which will be played Friday at the Kibbie Dome. Lakeside’s season ends at 9-2.
For all intents and purposes, though, it ended 39 seconds before halftime when Deary running back Dan Whitcomb’s 11-yard touchdown run put the Mustangs ahead 60-32.
But somebody forgot to tell the Knights, who fought gamely in the second half despite finding themselves in too deep of a hole.
The first half took 2 hours. The teams combined for 92 points and 748 yards total offense, 410 of which was piled up by Deary.
It was the third straight loss by Lakeside in the semifinals to Deary. This one, though, started much better than the one a year ago.
Last year, Deary romped to a 42-0 lead and probably should have ended it in the first half by the 45-point mercy rule. But Lakeside didn’t quit, using a 2-minute, spread-style offense to close the gap before falling 66-48.
Friday, Lakeside put on an offensive show in the first quarter. It’s the first time a team held a lead of any significance against Deary since it lost to North Gem 24-12 in last year’s state championship game.
On the game’s first play, Pluff escaped the hard-rushing Mustangs and dashed 75 yards for a TD. Later in the period, Pluff’s 30-yard pass to Sam Lozeau put Lakeside ahead 24-22 at the 1:40 mark.
That would be the last time the Knights would lead.
Whitcomb’s 12-yard TD run to open the second quarter gave Deary the lead for good at 30-24, and it was just the beginning of a 38-point explosion.
The Knights didn’t quit, forcing a Deary fumble at the 10-yard line as it appeared the Mustangs were going to close out the game with one last touchdown.
On the next play, Buck Allen found a sprinting Lozeau alone for a 90-yard scoring connection that pulled Lakeside within the final margin with 1:18 left.
“They ain’t ever going to quit,” Lakeside coach Ron Miller said, choking back tears. “I asked them to give me everything and they did.”
Pluff never returned after the injury. He was feeling tingling in his neck, but at least was able to walk around.
Allen tried to lead a comeback, but Deary did a good job of taking time off the clock in the second half. “We seniors had a great time together this year,” Allen said, moments before a tearful embrace with Miller near midfield.
“We just couldn’t stop them,” Miller added.
Deary 68, Lakeside 54
Lakeside 24 8 8 14 - 54
Deary 22 38 8 0 - 68
L-Pluff 75 run (Allen pass from Pluff) D-Brown 5 pass from Perezchica (run failed) D-Perezchica 24 run (Whitcomb run) L-Lozeau 1 run (Allen run) D-Hason 14 run (Hanson run) L-Lozeau 30 pass from Pluff (T. Morris pass from Allen) D-Whitcomb 12 run (Hanson run) D-Hatley fumble recovery in end zone (Hanson run) L-Allen 6 pass from Pluff (McFadden pass from Pluff) D-Whitcomb 75 kickoff return (run failed) D-Safety, Pluff tackled in end zone D-Whitcomb 60 run (run failed) D-Whitcomb 11 run (Brown pass from Perezchica) L-Allen 1 run (Kolar pass from Allen) D-Burnett 2 run (Hanson pass from Perezchica) L-Kolar 80 pass from Allen (pass failed) L-Lozeau 90 pass from Allen (Kolar pass from Allen)