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Lakeview falls to Towns County 26-13 in first varsity game
Lakeview Academy fans cheer on the Lions during their first-ever varsity football game Friday night at home against Towns County. - photo by SARA GUEVARA


Listen to Lakeview coach Matthew Gruhn talk about his team's performance in the Lions' first varsity game

GAINESVILLE — Accountability is one key to a program’s success.

Lakeview Academy, playing in its first game as a varsity program, was penalized 18 times for 145 yards in its 26-13 loss to Towns County on Friday night, and Lions coach Matthew Gruhn looked to no one but himself.

"We played hard but made so many mistakes and had so many penalties," Gruhn said.

"It’s indicative of a first game for a program, but I feel bad because all the penalties were made and certainly that comes back to me."

The Lions’ mental mistakes occurred most often after a momentum shift in their direction, making them even more costly.

"We’ll evaluate," Gruhn said. "I think all the penalties are fixable. We’re still young and inexperienced, but we made some dumb ones."

Penalties aside, the Indians (2-0) were physical and had a disciplined running attack, which led to Friday night’s win and the program’s first 2-0 start.

Towns County’s first score came with six seconds remaining in a back-and-forth first half.

The 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Chase Ellis was the culmination of a 10-play, four-minute drive.

The Indians scored on their next possession, thanks to a 10-yard run by Andy Page, but failed to score the 2-point conversion.

"They (Towns County) took advantage of our size; we’re so small," Gruhn said. "They’re physical and well-coached, and my hat’s off to them."

With momentum on Towns County’s side, Lakeview (0-1) attempted to snatch it away with a 33-yard run by Matt Whyte on the ensuing possession.

The run, however, was negated by a holding penalty.

The half ended with the Indians up 13-0, but Lakeview was up for the challenge.

Austin White returned the second-half kickoff 46 yards.

Patrick McCormac took over from there rushing for 34 yards on five plays during a six-play drive to score the Lions’ first touchdown.

McCormac finished the game as Lakeview’s leading rusher with 68 yards on 6 carries.

"We looked strong (to start the second half)," Gruhn said. "We just decided (at halftime) that we were going to do what we do, and we did and, boy, did it look good."

Two Lakeview penalties on Towns County’s ensuing drive brought the Indians to the 21-yard line, and from there Page scampered in for his second touchdown of the game.

Page finished as the game’s leading rusher with 132 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns.

His running mate, Indians’ senior quarterback Chase Ellis, rushed for 98 yards on 13 carries and one touchdown and was 4-of-10 passing for 61 yards and one touchdown.

"Towns County played well," Gruhn said. "They’re a good team and their coach (Kyle Langford) has done an incredible job.

"They earned it."

Lakeview got its second and final score thanks to a fumbled punt.

Towns County coughed up a Nick Saye punt at the Lions’ 37, and 12 plays later White rushed in for a 2-yard touchdown.

Gruhn knows that first-game jitters played a part in his team’s mental lapses. He is also aware that learning is a byproduct of mistakes.

"I’m positive we’ll play so much better next Friday," he said.

Lakeview next plays host to Hebron Christian at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Towns County will attempt to extend its winning streak at 7:30 p.m. Friday when it travels to Copper Basin, Tenn.

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