By Keno Sultan

The Suburbanite


Say whatever you want, but it seems like everytime the Blue Streaks have ventured to North Canton Memorial Stadium since 2007, a conspiracy has been made to order.
For the third time in four years, the host Vikings made key plays and kept Lake from scoring at critical times. When everything concluded, the Blue Streaks absorbed their first loss of the season in a 24-10 defeat.

A Federal League logjam was created with Lake's setback. Youngstown Boardman turned away Perry and Austintown-Fitch slammed GlenOak. Lake's setback awarded the top position to the Falcons, who are 2-0 in the league and 5-0 overall.

During the last three weeks, aside from a 44-14 pounding of Green, Lake had found ways to concoct razor-thin wins over Hudson and Canton McKinley along with a defensive gem against Youngstown Boardman.

It was not the case Friday as the Vikings set the tone for the evening on their opening possession that was constructed in16 plays and spanning 65 yards.

Mixing a balanced diet of passes and runs, the drive concluded when junior quarterback Austin Appleby connected on a six-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jon Nutt, who was wide open on the play. Though Ryan Sarbaugh's extra-point failed, the tone was set and the Vikings unearthed new energy missing from last week's 37-point loss at Perry.
“That first drive they came out and set the tone. We have to be able to come out and answer the call and we did not do that,” Lake coach Jeff Durbin said.

Lake answered the Vikings drive with a long one of their own. Like the Vikings, they mixed up the pass and run and scored their first points on a Matt Gallegly 31-yard field goal and after their first 13 plays, the game was only 6-3.

The Blue Streaks were determined to assume their first lead of the contest as they drove deep in Vikings territory and appeared to have their first lead when junior quarterback Jon Spohn rushed for what had shaped up to be a 37-yard touchdown. A  late flag wiped out Spohn's touchdown run on a holding penalty, only giving the visitors a first down at the Vikings 25-yard line.

When asked about the lateness of the flag, Durbin could not tell what happened.
“I don't know if there was a hold or not but I can't comment on that,” he said.
The Blue Streaks turned the ball over on a late fumble and it only took the Vikings a mere three plays to find real estate. Taking advantage of the first of a plethora of Lake turnovers, Appleby threw the second of his three touchdown passes, hitting senior receiver Joey Housos in stride for a 60-yard touchdown run with 1:59 to play before halftime. That score proved to be beneficial for the Vikings in what to that point had been a defensive struggle.

The third quarter only got dire for Lake. In a turnover prone quarter, The Vikings scored 10 points to make Lake's climb back from their deficit a mountainous one as Ryan Sarbaugh kicked a 27-yard field and Appleby found Housos again for a 14-yard touchdown pass.

Two scores in a span of 3:04 gave the Vikings a 24-3 lead.

It proved to be too much for Lake to overcome. Though Spohn found Jake Viscounte for a five-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter, the turnovers proved to be too much for Lake to overcome as they finished with six turnovers and were outgained 304-214 in yardage, not to mention the Vikings 27:26 time of possession to Lake's 20:34.
Appleby accounted for 204 yards of the Vikings offense through the air. When asked to compare him to former Vikings quarterback Bill Liber, veteran head coach Don Hertler Jr. did not get baited into the comparison game involving his current 6'5'' quarterback to the 2000 Hoover graduate.

“Austin Appleby is Austin Appleby. He did a good job running the offense and played very well,” Hertler Jr. said. “As a team we played with a lot of heart tonight and we were very physical tonight more than what we have been.”

When asked about North Canton Hoover's dominance of Lake at home the last three out of four years, Hertler Jr. added, “Our kids just play well.”

Lake now moves toward a pivotal contest next Friday against Perry. Lake will have to put this game behind them quickly and it started as the team buses departed for Lake Township.

When asked about the last three contests in four years at North Canton Memorial Stadium and why they have not gone the Blue Streaks way considering the fact they have been outscored 93-38 for an average of 31 to 12.6 points dating back to 2007, Durbin made his stance felt on that fact before turning his sights to next Friday's contest against the Panthers.

“I don't want to talk about that,” he said. “You can't win games when you are turning the ball over.”


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