Dreadnaughts Outduel Indians in a Shootout, 60-48.

For the second time in the past three playoff games, the final score could have been mistaken for a basketball game.

The Dreadnaughts amassed an incredible 540 yards of total offense, including a dominant rushing output of 497 yards. Lakeland scored on all its first-half possessions and only punted once in the second half.

D’Marius Rucker (RB) led the Dreadnaughts by rushing for 209 yards on 22 carries, scoring three touchdowns. Lakeland entered the end zone seven times on the ground. In addition to D’Marius Rucker, Malik Morris (LB/RB) scored twice, Markel Johnson (RB) scored once, and Carlos Mitchell (DB) rushed for a score from the wildcat formation.

Zander Smith (QB) triumphed over a painful shoulder injury sustained on a 43-yard run on the final play of the first quarter. He was perfect on all six passes including a touchdown to Jamar Taylor, Jr. (WR) which was the Dreadnaughts’ first score.

The Indians also orchestrated an offensive onslaught. Venice amassed an impressive 479 yards of offense. The Indians churned out 234 yards on the ground, led by Jamarice Wilder (RB) rushing for 112 yards on 15 carries with two touchdowns, and Alvin Johnson (RB) rushing for 90 yards on 12 carries and a score.

Venice accumulated another 245 yards through the air. Jadyn Glasser (QB) led the Indians’ air assault by completing 14 of 24 passes for 203 yards, including touchdown strikes to Deylen Platt (CB/WR), Griffin Gisotti (WR) and C.J. Lewis (WR).

Yet, the key to the game was Dreadnaught’s defense. Lakeland forced five turnovers, including four interceptions, to secure the victory. The interceptions were extremely costly due to their position of the field or the result of the play. Shanard Clower (DB) had two picks, including an electrifying return for a score. Kavon McKinney (CB) stepped in front the wide receiver for a pick in the Dreadnaughts’ end zone. Jameson Young (FS) picked off a pass at Lakeland’s 3-yard line.

The contest was like heavyweight prizefighters exchanging body blows in the first half. Venice took its first lead of 21-20 in the second quarter. Lakeland added a fourth score late in the quarter and led 27-21 at halftime.

Venice took the second-half kickoff and drove 65 yards on nine plays to take a 28-27 lead on Jamarice Wilder’s 1-yard score.

Lakeland regained and would not relinquish the lead when Carlos Mitchell scored on a 15-yard run, giving the Dreadnaughts a 33-28 advantage.

Malik Morris gave the Dreadnaughts breathing room at 40-28 when he raced to the pylon for a 51-yard touchdown on their ensuing offensive possession. He was also the leading tackler on defense and forced a critical fumble during the game.

Shanard Clower provided Lakeland’s next touchdown. He intercepted Jadyn Glasser on 4th down and returned the pass for a pick-six, giving the Dreadnaughts a 46-28 lead.

D’Marius Rucker cemented the Dreadnaughts’ victory with highlight-reel touchdown runs of 45 yards and 68 yards on Lakeland’s final two possessions.

Venice would not go quietly. C.J. Lewis returned a kickoff for a touchdown. After Venice recovered the onside kick, Jaydn Glasser hit Griffin Gisotti for a 25-yard touchdown. For the Indians’ final score, Glasser connected with Deylen Platt for a 48-yard score as time expired.

Dreadnaught Nation should take a few moments to reflect on this incredible season. Lakeland has conquered much this year in securing its ninth State Championship. The transition from legendary Coach Bill Castle, the loss of more than 30 players due to graduation, injuries, an extremely daunting schedule and other adversities make this State Championship like none of its predecessors. We should admire and voice our congratulations to first-year Coach Marvin Frazier, his assistants and the Dreadnaught players for a season to remember.