Luther rumbles for five TDs as Lake defeats Green

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By Jason Lloyd

Akron Beacon Journal

LAKE TWP.: Jim Luther is tired of mediocrity. On his first chance to show how much better Lake can be this season, the senior tailback shined.

Luther rushed for 162 yards and scored a career-high five touchdowns, including one on defense, in Lake's 44-14 win over Green on Friday. The Blue Streaks' defense forced five turnovers and returned two of them for scores to beat the Bulldogs in the opener for the third consecutive season.

Luther, the senior who rushed for 1,320 yards and 20 touchdowns last season, scored on runs of 12, 13, 46 and 37 yards. He added a 67-yard score off a fumble recovery on Green's first possession to help the Blue Streaks to a 20-0 lead after the first quarter.

''We've had back-to-back 5-5 seasons,'' Luther said. ''That's not going to happen this year. The seniors, we're not going to let it happen.''

Lake coach Jeff Durbin has always insisted that he has more playmakers than just Luther. This just proved it.

Corey Paulino returned an interception 71 yards for a score, Wes Wilson had the big strip that led to Luther's long fumble return and quarterback Jon Spohn attempted just five passes, but threw for 128 yards.

''He's got vision and toughness and of course he's fast,'' Durbin said of Luther. ''Everybody expects Jimmy to make plays . . . but we've got some other guys capable of that, too.''

The Bulldogs turned the ball over three times in the first half and had a fourth drive end on downs when senior quarterback Jon Cundiff's pass was batted down by Mason Stephens on fourth-and-2 from Lake's 31.

Cundiff was hurt late in the second quarter with the Bulldogs trailing 30-0. He was injured on his final play, an interception by Dan Reed that ultimately resulted in Luther's 46-yard score on the Blue Streaks' first play after the turnover.

Cundiff was taken to a hospital, Green coach Tom Stacy said, although he didn't have details of the injury or an update on his status.

Junior Mark Zimmerman replaced Cundiff, but completed just 7-of-14 passes for 89 yards. He threw three interceptions.

''They're not 30 points better than us, there's no way they're that much better,'' Stacy said. ''But you have to come out and play. We've worked too hard to come out and play like that.''

Poor tackling on defense and critical miscues on offense doomed the Bulldogs from the start. They tried fighting back in the second half, when Kyle Finch scored on the opening drive to cut the lead to 30-7.

The Bulldogs came close to recovering a fumble by Spohn on Lake's 28-yard line on the ensuing possession. Green lineman Sam Dorando appeared to fall on the loose ball, but the Blue Streaks retained possession and, after a long completion, Luther had his fifth touchdown of the game on a 37-yard run.

Seth Wieland rushed for 62 yards, Zach Wieland had 57 and Devonte Sherman had 50 for the Bulldogs, who amassed 236 yards of offense in the second half. But the initial deficit was too great.

''We didn't respond to the bell and they did,'' Stacy said. ''By the time we recovered and were able to do some decent things, we were down 30-0. You can't do that.''

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