Lions down John I. Leonard 16-6 for first win of season

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Lions down John I. Leonard 16-6 for first win of season

OH defensive back Trotsky Horton intercepts a Lancer pass for a 31-yard pick six.

OH defensive back Trotsky Horton intercepts a Lancer pass for a 31-yard pick six.

Keithley

OH defensive back Trotsky Horton intercepts a Lancer pass for a 31-yard pick six.

Keithley

Keithley

OH defensive back Trotsky Horton intercepts a Lancer pass for a 31-yard pick six.

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After opening the 2019 season with three losses, the Olympic Heights Lions football team got in the win column with a 16-6 win against the John I. Leonard Lancers on Friday, Sept. 13 at Corey Lewis Stadium.

The importance of the Lions’ first victory of the season was not lost on head coach Kevin Wald. “This [win] is something we can definitely build on for the rest of the season, and the players are starting to understand what it takes to win,” Wald emphasized.

The Lancers came into this game on the heels of two bad home losses to Palm Beach Gardens and Forest Hill and looking to capitalize against the struggling Lions; however, OH had different plans.

The Lions scored on their opening drive for the first time this season, marching 70 yards to the Lancers’ 5-yard line, but were moved backwards to the 30-yard line after a penalty and sack. The opening drive included a crucial third down conversion on a 15-yard swing pass from quarterback Blake Moreland to running back Christian Ippolito and a 31-yard run by running back Nick Palmenteri.

The Lions were able to get three points out of the drive on an impressive 47-yard field goal by kicker Matthew Shook.

The Lions defense came out hungry for a win as well. On John I. Leonard’s first drive, defensive back Trotsky Horton intercepted a third down and eight pass, returning it for a 31-yard touchdown. After a pre-snap penalty on the point-after attempt, the Lions went for a two-point conversion at the one-and-a-half yard line. This attempt was squashed by the Lancers, putting OH up 9-0.

After a turnover on downs and a couple of three-and-outs from both teams, the Lions again worked their way into the Lancers’ red zone. Moreland then made a perfect throw to WR Charles Davis for a 20-yard touchdown, and after a successful point-after, the Lions were up 16-0 at halftime.

The Lancers and the Lions each opened the second half with three-and-outs. On their second possession of the half, the Lancers drove 57 yards on just six plays, including an explosive 35-yard run and scoring on a four-yard QB rush. After an unsuccessful point-after attempt, the scoreboard read Lions 16, Lancers 6.

The Lions offense again went three-and-out, and the Lancers followed with a 68-yard drive to the Lions 7-yard line. After three tough stops by the OH defense, the Lancers had to settle for a 30-yard field goal attempt: however, the kick was unsuccessful, and the lead stood at 16-6.

The Lions found themselves with a third-straight three-and-out, and the Lancers drove the field into Lion’s territory once again. This time, the Lions got a much-needed stop on fourth down at their own 25, enabling the offense to run out the clock and walk away with their first victory of the year.

“I thought our special teams play was outstanding,” Wald said. “I thought our defense did a great job keeping [the Lancers] out of the end zone!  Offensively we had no turnovers and did just enough to get the job done!”

OH center Pedro Neves called this game “a turning point in the season,” saying that the team “learned a lot about how [the Lions] can run the ball.

“We’re still going game by game and hopefully win by win,” Neves added.

The Lions will look to make it two in a row when they travel to Spanish River to take on the 0-3 Sharks on Friday, Sept. 20. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m.

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