Tyrel Derrick called it a “character win.”
Derrick had a pair of long touchdown runs and Tuekota Tate-Vandever ran for two more scores in the second half as Lakeland smacked East Valley 41-10 in a nonleague football game at East Valley on Friday night.
East Valley used excellent field position to keep the Hawks hemmed deep in their own territory in the first quarter. After having a drive stall at the Lakeland 11 with 4:22 left in the first half, the Knights took the lead on a 28-yard field goal by Alex Bowdish.
Freed from the depths of their own territory, the Hawks needed just three plays to take the lead. Chris Washburn ran 38 yards on the first play from scrimmage, and after Derrick picked up 5 yards on a keeper, dashed the final 32 yards for the touchdown and a 7-3 lead.
East Valley had its next drive stall at the 18, and on fourth down the snap to punter Dante Clayton sailed over his head and out the back of the end zone for a Lakeland safety.
Lakeland took over at midfield and Derrick dodged a blitzing East Valley linebacker and raced 49 yards for a touchdown. Washburn tacked on a two-point conversion and the Hawks led 17-3 at halftime.
“They blitzed, but for some reason the guy ran right at our fullback,” Derrick said. “I’ll take it.”
East Valley fumbled on its first possession of the second half, turning the ball over on its own 24. But Lakeland turned the ball over itself on its first play, giving the ball back at the EV 23.
The Knights gave it right back on the next play when quarterback Connor Ramm, working from the shotgun, got a bad snap. By the time the pile was sorted out, Lakeland had the ball at the East Valley 8 and Tate-Vandever bulled over to make it 24-3.
Derrick added a 68-yard run for a touchdown in the third quarter.
“We did not take East Valley lightly at all,” Derrick said. “We came in here and got a win when we didn’t play a perfect game. We still have things we can improve on and get better. It was a character win for us.”
The Hawks dominated the line of scrimmage, shutting down the East Valley running attack and giving Ramm little time to find receivers down field.
Meanwhile, the Lakeland running game ground out the yards.
“Lakeland is kind of famous for having backs like that,” Derrick said. “We like backs who can pick up the dirty yards.”
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.