By George Slaughter
One connotation was the competitiveness of the game. The Spartans never trailed, but Mayde Creek kept fighting back with big plays to stay in the contest. The Rams, in fact, were threatening to tie the game with less than a minute left.
The other connotation was the ejection of two players, one from each side, for unsportsmanlike conduct. The game was marred with numerous penalties and some players struggled to maintain their poise at times. Apparently not all the players shook hands after the game.
Seven Lakes improves to 3-6 overall and 2-4 in district play. Mayde Creek falls to 3-5 and 1-5, respectively.
The Spartans made the first score, a four-yard plunge by senior running back Chris Williams. Gustavo Arreola kicked the extra point at the 5:01 mark in the first quarter.
The Rams needed only one play to tie the score, as junior Jalon Strong took the ball on a pitchout to the left side and ran 71 yards for the touchdown.
After an exchange of punts, the Spartans’ junior running back Cory Anderson scored on a 35-yard run with 1:16 left in the first quarter. Arreola kicked the extra point.
In the second quarter, Anderson went up the middle for a 75-yard run. On the next play, junior quarterback Micheal Batton ran a quarterback draw and scored from 10 yards out. Arreola’s extra point gave Seven Lakes a two-touchdown lead at the 7:37 mark.
“Our plan was to run the football, to make them try to stop us on the run,” Seven Lakes coach Lydell Wilson said. “We were able to do some good things early and continued to do it.”
But the Rams came back with a touchdown of their own, a 1-yard plunge by senior quarterback Keyonte Fiakpul. Tony Casas kicked the extra point and the Rams trailed 21-14 at halftime.
Spartan senior running back Chris Williams scored the only touchdown of the third quarter. He took the ball, went up the middle, and took it in for a 50-yard score. His touchdown came at the 10:16 mark. Arreola kicked the extra point to give the Spartans another two-touchdown lead.
“I ran track, got my speed up, and that showed tonight,” Williams said. He complemented his offensive line, saying they had worked together for four years.
But the Rams weren’t finished. On the second play of the fourth quarter, Fiakpul completed a 27-yard touchdown pass to Strong. Casas kicked the extra point and the Rams were back within seven.
The Rams defense forced a Spartans punt on the next possession. When Mayde Creek got the ball back, the Spartans defense held, and the Rams decided to go for it on fourth-and-five from the Seven Lakes 35. Fiakpul threw an interception on the play, and Seven Lakes senior linebacker Christian Escamilla returned it into Mayde Creek territory.
Two plays later, Williams scored on a 12-yard run. Arreola kicked the extra point and the Spartans led 35-21 at this point.
The Rams needed only one play to close the gap again. This time, the touchdown came on a 62-yard pass from Fiakpul to Strong with 7:13 left. Casas kicked the extra point.
The Spartans got the ball back and scored again, this time on a 54-yard run by Batton with 4:51 left. Arreola’s extra point gave Seven Lakes a 42-28 lead.
The Rams responded with another touchdown, this one a 53-yard pass from Fiakpul to Ikenna Nsoedo with 3:51 left. Casas kicked the extra point and Mayde Creek once again trailed by only seven.
The Rams forced a Spartans punt and drove the ball to the Seven Lakes 27, where Fiakpul threw four incomplete passes, the last one coming with only 23 seconds left in the game.
“We didn’t do a very good defending the pass,” Wilson said. “Every time I looked up it seemed the ball was going over our heads.”
The victory is no doubt sweet for Seven Lakes, which ends its season against Morton Ranch Friday at Legacy Stadium. But in the moments after the game, some tension was palpable. Williams said the coaches told the players to shake hands, and he did.
However, he wasn’t sure that all his teammates did the same.
“Honestly, it was really unsportsmanlike, not cool at all,” Williams said. “We shouldn’t have been acting the way we were acting. We were winning. We should have been happy instead of talking crap to the other team.”
Wilson said he didn’t know whether all the players shook hands, though he added that he was “pretty sure” everyone did. He was worried about going down the line where he was shaking hands, he said.
“We played some decent games but we haven’t played the way we’re capable of playing,” Wilson said. “The kids fight hard each game and now we’ve just got to go out and finish on a strong note against Morton Ranch.”
Mayde Creek will next play Katy Friday at Rhodes Stadium in its season finale.