For a football team that has produced a 1-19 record over the past two seasons, Lake Clifton seemed awfully casual yesterday after raising its record to 3-0 with a 16-14 win over visiting Southern-B.
"Everyone wants to beat us, so all we're thinking about is winning," said Lake Clifton running back Ricky Matthews, who ran for 119 yards on 25 carries. "Everyone still thinks we're the misfits of the [Maryland Scholastic Association] B Conference, so we just come out here to prove everybody wrong."
Lake Clifton took advantage of a roughing-the-punter penalty and a pass-interference call on its opening possession and manufactured a 16-play scoring drive that consumed nearly nine minutes of the first quarter.
Kenneth Williams scored the Lakers' first touchdown on a 4-yard run up the middle, and quarterback Kevin Estep connected with Eric Foreman on the two-point conversion pass to give the hosts an 8-0 lead with nine seconds left in the first quarter.
Southern (1-2) didn't take nearly as long to find the end zone as junior Andre Scott fielded the ensuing kickoff, broke three tackles in front of his own bench, and raced 72 yards down the left sideline for the score.
Quarterback Timothy Aye ran around right end for the two-point conversion to tie the game at 8-8 with no time left in the first quarter.
Neither team could do much on offense in the second quarter, and the game stayed tied at the half.
"We realize that when you're 1-0 or 2-0 or whatever, every team you play is coming after you, and that's exactly what happened here," said Lake Clifton coach David White.
Southern needed only two plays to score on its first possession of the second half. A 13-yard run by Scott put the ball at midfield and set up a 50-yard scamper by junior fullback Troy Whitaker. Jim Loetz's extra-point try went wide left, and the Bulldogs settled for a 14-8 lead with 9:16 left in the third quarter.
Lake Clifton answered on its next possession with a nine-play scoring drive capped by a 4-yard pass from Estep to Foreman. Matthews then ran for the decisive two-point conversion.
Southern's option offense tried to free its running backs on the outside throughout the second half, but it was thwarted by a Lakers defensive line that seemed to have taken up residency in the Bulldogs' backfield.
"They went to the option at times and we were able to shut that down with blitzes and that seemed to unnerve them and they went away from what they wanted to do against us," said White. "I think they believed they could get outside on us and once we stopped that it was pretty much over."
Southern's best field position of the second half disappeared with 4:14 left in the third quarter when Matthews caused and recovered a fumble behind the line of scrimmage.
Said Bulldogs coach Jack Nehsmann: "The kids played hard and with a lot of intensity, but the mistakes that we made were crucial mistakes at crucial times, and if we don't make them it's a whole new ballgame."