Lakeside flexed its poise and talent at Chick Austin Field Friday night to take a 58-42 first-round playoff win over the Harrison Golden Goblins.
The Rams (8-3) entered the match as the No. 2 seed from the Class 5A-South, taking on the 3-seed Goblins (7-4) from the West.
"Just to get the W, you know, anytime that you can win a playoff game at home," said Lakeside head coach Garren Rockwell. "As the game was going on, I just didn't want it to go back like in 2017 when we let them come down here and beat us and bully us. And so I wanted to change that narrative. Now that's a good football team. Don't get me wrong, that's a good football team, but I just didn't want us to get bullied and I told them, you got to keep punching, because they're going to keep punching. And that's what we did."
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The Rams wasted no time taking it to the Goblins when on the third play of the game, senior quarterback Jacob Hermosillo found Kyler Wolf off the pass over the middle for a 71-yard touchdown. Caleb Villines' kick made it 7-0 less than two minutes in.
Rockwell said Wolf was the main difference-maker in the ballgame. Harrison head coach Chris Keylon agreed.
"Obviously, they did a great job on offense. Their pass game was really good. Big plays hurt us. You know, they got a lot of big plays on us and credit to them. They did a good job. We didn't do a good enough job on defense," he said.
While never going ahead, the Goblins kept chipping away at the Rams' lead throughout the game, trailing 31-21 entering the second half.
"Like we've said all year long, don't give up," Keylon said of what he told the team at the break. "You know, the obstacles are in front of you, you got to keep going through the obstacles and overcome them and never quit and that's what our kids did and, you know, we came up short."
Starting the second half, Lakeside hit the paint just as quickly as it did to start the game, picking up the Harrison fumble on the third play to set up a 65-yard touchdown run by Grady Ohman. After Wolf scored at the 6:22 mark, the Rams led 45-28 before Harrison senior quarterback Mason Ketterman found Eli McNutt off the scramble for the score.
After holding the Rams, the Goblins' Braden Long broke several tackles and hit the sidelines for a 69-yard touchdown run as the quarter came to an end to only trail by three. Lakeside answered with Hermosillo finding Skylar Purifoy in the end zone for the leaping grab to extend the lead back to 10. Wolf iced the game with 1:35 to go with a 36-yard touchdown run.
"You know, you just take it one week at a time," Rockwell said. "It starts with coming to practice on Sunday, getting healed up and then we got practice on Monday, too."
The Rams will travel to Pine Bluff (9-2) Friday night after the Zebras defeated Nettleton 41-21 Friday night at home.
"We just got to watch film and see," Rockwell said of preparing for the tough matchup. "They're a really good team and we take it one quarter, one practice at a time. They're number one in the Central and they got a lot of pride just like we do. They're riding off a high like we are, so it should be a good matchup."