Jackson overpowers Lake to stay perfect

BY Joe Mitchin

 

JACKSON TWP. The stage was set for the Federal League’s final two unbeaten teams to meet up with something to prove on Friday night at Jackson’s Robert Fife Stadium.

It was there that the Polar Bears showed they are for real, taking down visiting Lake, 23-13, to improve to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the competitive league. Jackson’s physicality again shined through, as the Bears held the Blue Streaks to just 86 rushing yards on 27 carries as a team, while registering 185 yards of its own on the ground.

“It was physical against physical,” Jackson coach Tim Budd said after the game. “I’m really proud of our guys for coming out on top.”

Jackson, which entered the game ranked sixth in the Associated Press’ Division I poll, took early control of the game and seemingly never let up.

After the teams traded punts to begin the game, Jackson struck with a 62-yard pitch-and-catch from quarterback Jaret Pallotta to receiver Dillon Dingler for a touchdown to put the Bears up 6-0. Jackson scored later in the quarter, too, when Pallotta called his own number, rushing for a 3-yard touchdown to make it 13-0.

In all, Jackson scored touchdowns on three of its five first-half possessions.

“We’ve come into this season with a chip on our shoulder,” Pallotta said. “No matter how many games we win, we want to have the same chip on our shoulder the whole year. Our approach is to go into every game 0-0.”

Lake (4-1, 0-1) didn’t get much going offensively until midway through the first half of its Federal League opener. But the fourth-ranked team in Division II used a 10-yard touchdown run by Zach Straley to get on the scoreboard. Lake amassed just 99 total yards in the first 24 minutes of play.

Jackson answered just before the half with a nine-play, 65-yard drive that was capped off with another rushing score from Pallotta, this one from just a yard out on fourth-and-goal with just 50 seconds to play.

The junior finished 12 of 20 for 151 yards and a touchdown to go along with his two short scores on the ground.

After the Bears’ came out for the second half with the 20-6 lead, they forced the first of three Lake turnovers. Jackson’s Jack Dear intercepted Lake’s Owen Goodheart, setting up a 38-yard field goal by Dingler moments later.

Jackson tallied another interception later in the quarter when Joe Childers went up and grabbed a pass around midfield.

Goodheart went on to compete 16 of his 24 passes for 135 yards and the two turnovers.

“We dialed it in and we were able to get some big stops,” Budd said of his defense. “Our guys want to be good. They want to be known as hard workers. They just keep answering the challenges.”

However, several Jackson penalties got in the way of the Bears expanding their lead even further. After setting up at the Lake 15 early in the fourth quarter following a fumble recovery by Billy LeMothe, Jackson couldn’t cash in after being backed up to near midfield.

Jackson finished the game with 11 penalties for 100 yards.

Lake’s only scoring in the second half came at the 2:24 mark in the fourth quarter when Joel Francis found the end zone from five yards out. Francis, who entered the contest with nearly 600 rushing yards through the first four games of the season, was held to just 37 yards on 16 carries and the score in the loss.

“We didn’t play very good football,” Lake coach Dan DeGeorge said. “Kudos to Jackson, they played really well. Our kids weren’t very physical, and that’s not Lake football. We’ll get that fixed.”

Jackson outgained the Blue Streaks 336-221 in the win. Dear led the Bears with 124 rushing yards on 22 carries while Zach Beaulieu hauled on six passes for 46 yards.

Lake’s Zach Sturmi caught six passes for 58 yards.

“I challenged our guys after film this week,” Budd said. “Two years ago, Jackson was 4-0 (but finished 6-4, missing the playoffs). What are we going to do to be different? I think this says we’ve been successful early but we have another challenge with GlenOak next week.”

Reach Joe at 330-775-1129 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

On Twitter: @jmitchinINDE

 

 

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