GAINESVILLE — Lakeview Academy coach Matthew Gruhn had one message for his team following Friday night’s 39-14 loss to Prince Avenue Christian at Lakeview: "Don’t even lose your desire to improve."
It was in that spirit that the Lions (1-5, 0-3 Region 8-A) entered the game, and they scored as many points Friday night as they did in their last three games combined, all losses.
And it is in that spirit that the Lions showed resilience; after falling behind 26-0 at the half, they scored on their first two possessions of the second half.
"The kids came out the second half with a lot more focus and passion," Gruhn said. "You know, we’ve still got a lot to play for — the scoreboard is tough — but we’re playing for a lot more than that, so it’s easy to stay motivated."
The Wolverines (3-5, 1-3) got off to a fast start, scoring on their first four possessions. They capped a seven-play, 73-yard drive to open the game with a 3-yard touchdown run by William McNeely.
After a three-and-out by Lakeview, Prince Avenue needed only one play from scrimmage to make the score 12-0. Taylor Clark notched his first score of the night when he took the snap and then took off up the right sideline for a 66-yard score.
Clark finished as the game’s leading rusher with 199 yards on 15 carries and three touchdowns.
McNeely scored his second touchdown of the game, also on a 3-yard run, on the Wolverines’ next possession. Clark finished the first-half offensive onslaught with his second touchdown, an 18-yard run, with five minutes remaining.
Lakeview showed promise on its final drive of the first half, getting its initial first down of the night and moving up field with relative ease before turning the ball over on a fumble at the Prince Avenue 17-yard line.
The Lions’ offense was stagnant in the first half, but came out in the second with a desire to show improvement, as did the defense.
They started things off by capping a five-play, 58-yard drive to open the half with a 33-yard pass from quarterback Jordan Chastain to Chris Askounis.
Then, after Prince Avenue struck back with Clark’s third touchdown run of the game from 59 yards, Lakeview showed resolve by bouncing back to score with four minutes left in the third quarter on an 18-yard run by Chastain.
"I simply told them at halftime that we were going to play better," Gruhn said. "That’s all I said and the kids responded."
All told, it was a tale of two halves for Lakeview, whose defense held the Wolverines to just 13 second-half points.
"Part of youth and inexperience is being able to put two halves together," Gruhn said. "We’ve got stuff that we can build on for next week out of that second half."
Tom Drury finished as the team’s leading rusher with 81 yards. Chastain ran for 53 yards and a score and passed for 52 yards and a score.