By Julia Poe
With just 19 seconds left in the first half and a 34-point lead, senior quarterback Gunnar Englund lined up the SM East offense with almost 70 yards of field between him and the endzone. It was the perfect position to take a knee and end the half.
Instead, Englund took the snap, dropped back into the pocket and lofted a pass to wide receiver Alec Dean. Dean roped it in near the 20 yard line, and suddenly the Lancers were within striking zone of the end zone. Two plays later, Englund fired another pass across the middle of the field. Senior Charley White dove to catch the low ball in the end zone, and the Lancers scored their fifth touchdown.
The long, quick, three-play drive illustrated the high-tempo offense that has marked the Lancers’ 2014 campaign to date and propelled SM East to a 41-6 victory over SM Northwest Friday. Though the Lancers struggled with multiple fumbles and offensive penalties, the strength of their rushing game and a smothering performance by the defense provided the third consecutive blow-out. The Lancers have outscored their opponents 129-16 through the first three games of the 2014 season.
On Friday, the Lancers relied heavily on the running game, with junior back Wyatt Edmisten rushing for 108 yards and two touchdowns on the night. Junior Calvin Jones shouldered most of the running duties later in the games and ran for 64 yards and two touchdowns, continuing to pound the ball up the middle.
This focus on rushing bought time for Englund in the pocket, and he capitalized by throwing for 105 yards and one touchdown. Although the Lancers opened the game with a pass-heavy offense, they stopped throwing the ball after the Cougars scored on a pick-six interception towards the end of the first half.
Englund said the offense is looking to tighten up its execution to avoid such mistakes.
“Like last week, we moved the ball well and played pretty well, but mistakes and fumbles hurt us again,” Englund said. “I lost [the ball] when I faked a handoff and it hit the running back, and then Wyatt fumbled a pitch. It’s things we can fix.”
Although the Cougars scored on the interception, they were held scoreless by the Lancer defense. After forcing consecutive three-and-outs, the defense never allowed the Cougars into their red zone and stopped the running game in the gut of the field.
With the Cougars missing their main running back, Duron Lowe, the SM Northwest offense was out of rhythm. Senior Kyle Ball capitalized on the weakness, bursting through the offensive line to sack the quarterback and make stops in the backfield.
“Our coaches drilled us all week on their main plays so we ate it up,” Ball said. “Then they had to start trying different things but we never got lazy and always stuck to our keys.”
With their third win of the season, the Lancers are averaging 43 points per game, outscoring their opponents by a margin of 38. Next week, the team faces a 1-2 SM West team that beat SM North Friday 36-6. SM North’s losing streak is now at 22.