Story by John Blake
Photos and video by Larry Benne
Lakewood football fans hadn't seen a game like this in quite awhile.
Their Rangers dominated from start to finish Friday night, shutting out Normandy, 35-0, at First Federal Lakewood Stadium in nonconference action.
First year head coach Michael Ribar's squad jumped out to a 21-0 first quarter lead and didn't give the visiting Invaders much of a chance the rest of the way. After a disappointing 1-9 season last season, a convincing 35-point victory and 2-1 record is certainly a welcomed and refreshing sight, according to Ribar.
"We were 1-9 last year, so it's nice to play the way we were supposed to, you know," Ribar said. "We played well, and we played hard."
Lakewood capitalized on a number of Normandy mistakes, including a pair of first half interceptions. With the Invaders down 14-0 but threatening in the red zone, Michael Goolsby picked off a Bailey Archacki pass near the end zone and sprinted 98 yards the other way to the house.
On Normandy's very next possession, Tyreik Boyd intercepted an Archacki flip pass which set the Rangers up nicely for their fourth score of the half. Lakewood quarterback Peyton Graham, a modest 4-for-5 for 82 yards through the air, scored three plays later on a 2-yard touchdown run, his second of the night.
It was a mistake-filled first half for the Invaders, who are trying to feel their way through the season under head coach Rick Dornbush.
"We came into this down some guys due to injuries," said Dornbush, whose team drops to 0-2.
"We knew it was going to be tough and it's always hard to overcome adversity, especially early, and obviously tonight we didn't do that," Dornbush said. "We're working, we're building a program.
"We fixed some holes from the first half, so we just keep building from there and look forward to next week," he said.
What really stood out for Lakewood was its running game and deep crop of running backs.
The Rangers were given a short field on several drives and weren't forced to move the ball very far, but the ground game was impressive, nonetheless. Five backs combined for 193 rushing yards on the night.
Ribar says having that type of depth at the position was "huge."
"We're deep enough," Ribar said. "The big key we're trying to do this year is get our number ones against our number ones at least once a week so that we're ready for the game on Friday."
The Rangers were led by their four-headed monster of Goolsby, Quentin Hill, Quentin Palmer and Michael Johnston, the latter of which had a team-high 91 yards on eight carries. His 27-yard touchdown run in the third quarter put Lakewood ahead, 35-0.
"It was good to see all our backups get in there," Ribar said. "Michael Johnston had a great game. He's a senior and he's ready to go now."
Palmer carried the ball five times for 53 yards, while Hill and Goolsby combined for 32 yards. It was Hill's 7-yard run which gave the Rangers the early 7-0 lead on their opening drive of the game. The score was set up by a 48-yard catch by Joe Malone over the middle from Graham on a third and long.
Hill punched it in on the next play.
Aside from their second drive of the game, the Invaders struggled to run the ball and were under pressure all night long. Archacki, 6-for-19 on the night, actually completed his first four passes before the wheels fell off.
"I really like Normandy's quarterback," said Ribar, a former Lakewood quarterback. "He was really gutting it out, trying to make things happen.
"We were able to contain him and get some pass rush on him," he added.
Due to the new high school mercy rules and Lakewood up by more than 30 in the second half, the officials went to a running clock near the end of the third quarter. Ribar said it probably worked out best for both teams.
"It was interesting. I wasn't sure exactly how it worked," Ribar said. "Not a bad rule. I think a lot times that's when a lot of stupid injuries happen."
Leading the Invaders offensively was Ben Jones, who had four catches for 41 yards.
Lakewood gets its first taste of West Shore Conference action next week when it travels to Avon. The Eagles moved to 3-0 Friday night with a 52-13 win over Twinsburg.
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