By George Slaughter
To hear Seven Lakes coach Lydell Wilson describe it, the Spartans this season have had to keep fighting adversity to make things come out all right in the end. Friday’s game against Morton Ranch was a case in point.
In it, Seven Lakes began strong and rolled up a 32-point halftime lead, only to see the Mavericks come back with a strong second half. But the Spartans kept fighting the adversity, and held on for a 42-34 victory at Legacy Stadium.
Seven Lakes scored on the first play from scrimmage on a well-executed pass play. From their own 30, Spartans junior quarterback Micheal Batton spun to his right and threw a lateral pass to junior wide receiver David Ugwoegbu, who in turn looked downfield and threw to senior wide receiver Janquan Bloomfield, who was just getting past his defender.
“It’s something we worked on for a while in practice,” Wilson said. “We tried to run it one time earlier in the year, but the first pass was incomplete.”
The 70-yard quick strike set the tone for the first half.
“We just wanted to go out there with a bang on the first play, and that’s exactly what we did,” Batton said.
After forcing a three-and-out, the Spartans struck again, this time on a 34-yard run by Batton with 8:18 in the first quarter.
Batton hit Ugwoegbu again, this time from 13 yards out, with 55 seconds left to finish the first quarter scoring.
The Spartans forced another three-and-out on the ensuing drive. Once again, Seven Lakes needed only one play to make a quick score. This time, Batton hit Bloomfield on 54-yard touchdown pass. Later, with 1:32 left in the first half, Batton hit junior wide receiver Rasheen Green for another score.
The Mavericks avoided a first-half shutout when senior Fernando Dominguez made a 21-yard field goal with no time left.
“We got some nice blocks, our quarterback made some nice throws, and our receivers ran some nice routes,” Wilson said. “We played a very good first half.”
The second half would be a different story.
Morton Ranch began its comeback on its second possession of the third quarter, needing only one play to get its first touchdown. The score came on a 25-yard run by senior quarterback Dallas Ross with 6:14 left. Senior kicker David Dominguez kicked the extra point. The Spartans led 35-10 at this point.
The Mavericks made things more exciting in the fourth quarter. Ross hit senior wide receiver Deonte Bradford for a 48-yard touchdown pass at the 10:19 mark.
Morton Ranch then attempted an onside kick, and senior defensive back Tyrus Chevalier recovered it for the Mavericks on the Seven Lakes 25. On the next play, Ross hit Bradford for another score. Dominguez made the extra points on both touchdowns, and suddenly Morton Ranch was within 11 points with 10:10 left in the game—plenty of time for a comeback.
But Seven Lakes came back with a touchdown of its own on the next drive. Bratton completed a pass to junior wide receiver Andre Arnold, who broke some tackles and was finally brought down at the Morton Ranch 4. Senior running back Chris Williams punched it in on the next play, which came with 8:17 remaining.
Junior kicker Gus Arreola kicked the extra point, as he did for all the Spartan touchdowns in the game. Seven Lakes led 45-24 at this point.
“That was huge,” Wilson said.
The Mavericks weren’t done, however. The Morton Ranch defense sacked Bratton in the end zone for a safety. On the ensuing drive, the Mavericks put together another touchdown drive. Ross hit Bradford on an eight-yard scoring pass with 3:26 left. Ross hit senior running back Derick Mariki for a two-point conversion.
“In the second half, they started making some plays,” Wilson said. “We allowed them to continue some drives, and they took advantage of that.”
The Mavericks forced the Spartans into a three-and-out and took over at the Seven Lakes 45. But the Mavericks couldn’t move the ball, and on fourth-and-10, senior defensive back Derek Jones intercepted a Ross pass to seal the Seven Lakes victory.
The game was the season finale for both teams. Seven Lakes finishes at 4-6 overall, and 3-4 in District 19-6A play. Morton Ranch finishes at 3-6 and 2-5, respectively.