Halloween at Utz Twardowicz Field was the perfect setting for unranked Lake Clifton to exorcise its demons last night.
Penalized just twice, the Lakers (6-3, 3-3) showed composure in a 12-6 City East Division upset victory over No. 12-ranked Patterson (6-3, 3-3).
But they still played like a team possessed.
There were bone-jarring hits from players such as Phillips Hayes (two sacks), Jason Carrothers and Clifton Bowen (one sack each), and the heads-up play of Hayes and Djorrell Dunn, who had critical fumble recoveries.
Hayes' recovery led to the Lakers' first touchdown, a first-period, 5-yard run by second-team All-Metro Darnell Pearsall (131 yards, 15 carries). And after returning his recovery 24 yards, Dunn set up the Lakers' second score, a third-period, 8-yard run by Robert Carrothers.
Eric Thompson's area-high ninth interception with 25 seconds left to play allowed the Lakers to end a three-game losing streak and get back into the chase for a berth in the Class 4A state playoffs.
Lake Clifton entered the game trailing Patterson in its quest for the Class 4A North region crown and the No. 4 seed.
"We hadn't beat them in four years, and for me this is the first time," said Thompson, a senior. "We put ourselves in this situation, but we know we're better than we've shown."
It has been a rough season for the Lakers, who tumbled from their preseason No. 3 ranking after a 5-0 start. Opposing players have questioned both the Lakers' quality of opposition and their heart in recent weeks.
"I didn't appreciate being disrespected by some of the teams, saying we didn't play anybody. Tonight we showed who we are," said Pearsall, who is having his third straight 1,000-yard season at 1,258. He has 3,858 yards and 28 touchdowns in three seasons.
For Dunn, the chance to return to the playoffs is an opportunity for redemption.
The Lakers' debut in last year's playoff included the scoring of a state-record 52 first half points in a 58-30 quarterfinal rout of North County. Then it ended with a fight-marred 28-8 semifinal loss to Eleanor Roosevelt of Greenbelt, during which the Lakers lost an 8-3 game and their composure.
"Last year, I messed up, punching a man," Dunn said, "but now I can show I'm a new man -- no dirty stuff, just playing smart."
Patterson's Roger Wrenn ranks as Maryland's 10th-winningest coach with 161 victories and is known for having a mixed bag of tricks. But the Lakers gave him a bit of his own treatment with a faked punt.
On the play, the Lakers faced fourth-and-three at their own 49 when Pearsall took a short snap and raced 25 yards. Two plays later, Carrothers scored for a 12-0 lead 3: 15 before the final period.
A 22-yard reception by Allen Clay (five receptions, 94 yards) set up Patterson's only score, a 6-yard run by Brian Hopson with 57 seconds left in the third, but Lakers stopped the Clippers' next-to-last drive and ran the clock down to 1: 30.
"They played with poise," Wrenn told his team during his post-game speech, "and they did it because they had to."
Pub Date: 11/01/97