Dragons burn Lakes Area early for 30-6 win
A short field, combined with ineffective special teams play and a lack of being prepared, all entered into the Lakes Area Screaming Eagles' first loss of the season.
The South Metro Dragons (5-0) won the first battle of the previously undefeated teams Saturday, with a convincing 30-6 win to take sole possession of first place in the Northern Power Football League.
"We were not ready to play," said Screaming Eagles head coach and starting quarterback Jason McCloskey. "We didn't have the majority of our guys at practice Friday and we were not in sync (Saturday).
"It wasn't a good spectacle."
Combine that with some more than undesirable rainy and cold weather, and the Screaming Eagles dug themselves a deep hole early -- one they couldn't scrape out of, despite holding the Dragons scoreless in the second half.
The Dragons used some good punt returns to create a short field in the first quarter, which along with a debilitating muffed punt returned for a touchdown by South Metro, led to a 30-0 halftime deficit for Lakes Area.
A 66-yard pass from quarterback Joe Stein to running back Vernon Johnson down the middle of the field also pushed all momentum to the Dragons, as they climbed to a 13-0 advantage in the first quarter.
"We had two guys collide going for the ball and (Johnson) made a nice catch and went untouched to the end zone," McCloskey said.
The points continued to pile up for South Metro, with a Willie Staple run up the gut to give the Dragons the 20-0 lead.
Special teams again haunted the Screaming Eagles midway through the second quarter, as a Dragon punt deflected off a Lakes Area player's foot, then bounced right up to a South Metro defender's hands for six more points.
"We gave them six points there, and that was possibly a 14-point swing," McCloskey said.
By the time the second half rolled around, the Dragons led 30-0, despite the Screaming Eagle defense playing well.
For the most part, the numbers for each team were low due to the weather, as well as being pretty equal.
South Metro was actually outgained by Lakes Area 237-232, while the Dragons rushed for 84 yards to the Eagles' 67.
McCloskey finished with 170 yards through the air, with three interceptions, and went 15-40.
Nine dropped passes also hindered the Eagles' aerial attack.
On a bright note, Jake Lindsey was busy being a thief, with four interceptions for Lakes Area. He also hauled in McCloskey's TD pass in the third quarter from 34 yards out.
"Our defense was sick, they played great again," McCloskey said. "Special teams yardage came into play, but we feel we gave this game away."
The Screaming Eagles (4-1) will see South Metro again July 12 in Minnetonka, in a game which could decide the top seed for the playoffs.
"Although South Metro is 5-0, we feel we match up well with them," McCloskey said.