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Lakewood Finally Arrives

Lancers dominate high-powered St. Bonaventure, 24-7, in a matchup of ranked teams.

September 25, 2004|Martin Henderson | Times Staff Writer

Ventura St. Bonaventure's first foray into Division I football turned out to be less than successful.

But for Lakewood, it may have been as sweet a moment as the program has ever experienced.

In the aftermath of a convincing 24-7 victory, Lakewood Coach Mike Christensen told his players, "We beat a good football team. In fact, we dominated!"

And with that, cheers went up. But Christensen went on.

"Mark this day down," he said. "We have taken our program finally to the next level."

That next level would be elite, where Lakewood can safely be mentioned in the same breath as Mission Viejo, Los Alamitos and Moore League rival Long Beach Poly.

The Lancers took the journey with a ball-control offense and a devastating defense. Lakewood (3-0), ranked 10th in the Southland by The Times, outperformed the sixth-ranked Seraphs (3-1) in every facet.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday September 26, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 49 words Type of Material: Correction
High school football -- A photo caption in Saturday's Sports section misidentified Lakewood's Danny Hernandez, who was catching a pass between two St. Bonaventure defenders, as Justin Robertson. The caption also said that the St. Bonaventure players made a tackle on the play. Hernandez broke free for a touchdown.

St. Bonaventure hadn't scored fewer than 38 points in its three victories, but its only points Friday came when Lakewood punter John Gillett dropped a snap and Carlton Gillespie picked up the loose ball and scored from two yards with 58 seconds left in the third quarter.

Lakewood's offense gained 368 yards to St. Bonaventure's 99. And though it's easy to point to Lancer linebackers Luthur Brown and Adrian McCovey -- considered among the nation's best tandem -- it was a team effort as St. Bonaventure wilted under the physical play.

Da'Milyn Tanner intercepted two passes, the defensive front hounded Seraph quarterbacks, who completed 12 of 21 passes for 63 yards, and the St. Bonaventure running game was practically non-existent.

Lakewood's physical dominance in the first half continued in the fourth quarter. It had scoring drives of 80 and 61 yards, and there was nothing fancy about it. No passing. Just a steady diet of Justin Robertson, Gabe Gonzalez and Tanner.

Quarterback Justin Wheeler sneaked in from one yard to make it 17-7 with 9:39 remaining, and Gonzalez scored from eight yards with 4:39 to go. The Lancers were going in for another score in the final minute, but Tanner fumbled at the two.

Robertson rushed 23 times for 124 yards, Tanner 12 for 89, and Gonzalez 11 for 56.

It was the first time St. Bonaventure had played a Division I team from the Southern Section. It was only the Seraphs' third loss in 74 games. The last time St. Bonaventure had been dominated so badly, Coach Jon Mack said, "was about 1980."

Lakewood took a 10-0 lead into the third quarter. Wheeler connected with Danny Hernandez on a 55-yard scoring pass as two defenders bounced off each other at the 20-yard line trying to defend Hernandez, who emerged and ran in uncontested with 6:23 left in the half.

The Lancers added a 36-yard field goal by John Gillett as time expired in the half. Lakewood ate up the final 4:07 of the second quarter on the drive.

The Seraphs' best scoring chance came when Steven Lippert intercepted a Wheeler pass at the Lakewood 26 and returned it to the 23. But Lakewood's defense dug in, and three plays later, Jeremy Licea missed a 40-yard field-goal attempt.

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