Rangers Fall in Emotional Home Opener
The festive mood of a football home opener was dampened this morning when the LHS community learned that Athletic Secretary Anne Giffels had passed away during the night. The program decided to make it a “Pink Out” night in honor of Giffels, who died from cancer. Players and cheerleaders wore pink accessories, and the student section went all-out pink in honor of the beloved Giffels. Amherst won the conference opener 35-18 behind a third quarter explosion for 21 points.
The matchup kicked off after a moment of silence for Mrs. Giffels. Lakewood received the ball and converted a first down on a nice third down catch by senior Jared Naida. The drive stalled, and Amherst struck quickly behind the running of junior running back Khennedy Scagliozzo. He carried the ball on six of Amherst’s seven plays in a three-minute, 68 yard touchdown drive. The final play of the drive was a 21 yard TD pass from junior Matt Fairchild to Matt Stauser. Amherst led 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
The Rangers went “three and out” on the next drive, setting up Amherst on a short field. This time the Comets went deep on the first play, and they scored on a 54 yard touchdown pass from Fairchild to senior Devin Holmes. That stretched the lead to 14-0….and was quickly followed by a interception on the Rangers first play of the next drive. Senior quarterback Austin Mahar successfully avoided any INTs in last week’s game at Medina, but would be picked off twice in this game.
The game was at a tipping point, as another touchdown would have sealed the game. However, the Ranger defense stiffened, forcing the Comets to punt late in the first quarter. The Rangers then had their longest drive of the night, marching 70 yards from their own ten yard line to the Amherst 20. Junior Will Adams rushed for 29 of those yards, and also had a 16 yard reception from Mahar. Attila Nagy capped the drive with a 37 yard field goal into the wind, cutting the lead to 14-3 with 8:19 left in the first half.
The Rangers gave up a long kickoff return, but the defense forced a “three and out” on the next Comet possession. Lakewood started in next drive in bad field position, and another interception gave the ball to Amherst at the Ranger 22 yard line. The defense held again, forcing Amherst into a missed field goal. The score remained 14-3 until the half, and Lakewood had momentum.
That momentum was completely gone after the first play of the third quarter. Comet senior Evan Shawver ran back the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown, making the score 21-3 after the extra point. Amherst scored on its next two offensive possessions, each capped by a touchdown run by Scagliozzo. The 35-3 lead implemented the OHSAA “running clock” rule with 4:59 left in the third quarter. Lakewood went on a long drive in its next possession, but a late sack pushed back the field goal attempt, which was just short from 43 yards.
Lakewood scored touchdowns on its final two drives – the first capped by a one yard TD run by senior Basho Kwaham. That drive featured a nice 28 yard pass from Mahar to senior Jay Boyd. The final score of the night was a four yard TD run by Naida, which was followed by a two point conversion run by junior Dwighasi Jackson.
After the game, head coach Tom Hannan praised his team’s effort. “We didn’t quit” he told them, but pointed out that “the [3rd quarter] kick return set the tone for the second half.” The Rangers next game will be next Friday at First Federal Lakewood Stadium against Berea-Midpark. The Titans are 1-1 on the season after a 65-36 win tonight at Westlake.
Mike Deneen has extensive experience covering sports and community stories for the Lakewood Observer. Mike has been a Senior Industry Analyst for the Freedonia Group in Cleveland, Ohio, since 1998. He has appeared on CNBC’s Closing Bell, NPR’s MarketPlace and has been quoted multiple times in The Wall Street Journal. He has made multiple guest appearances on ESPN Cleveland radio. Mike also writes for Inside Northwestern, a website that covers Northwestern Wildcat Athletics. You can reach him on Twitter at @MikeDeneen1