In an even matchup of old-school option football versus new-age spread, special teams ended up being the deciding factor.
George Walton Academy returned two first-half kickoffs for touchdowns to defeat Lakeview Academy 49-35 on Friday night at Jock Hornor Field in Gainesville. Bulldogs quarterback Omar Daniels notched a rushing touchdown and scored on a 65-yard kickoff return in the second quarter.
“That No. 13 (Daniels) is pretty good,” Lakeview coach Matthew Gruhn said. “He’s hard to tackle. They were very good on special teams, very good on offense and very good on defense. But those two (kick return) touchdowns were the difference in the game.”
The Lions (2-5, 1-5 Region 8-A) almost doubled the Bulldogs (6-1, 5-1) in total offense, they but allowed 202 yards on three kick returns, with another 40-yard return being wiped out due to a holding penalty. The seesaw affair was in doubt until the Lions were stopped at their own 45-yard line with 4 minutes, 31 seconds to play.
George Walton sealed the game with a three-minute drive capped by Daniels’ 3-yard keeper for the final margin.
Lakeview Academy quarterback Alec Bornhorst, who entered the game fourth in passing in Class A, completed 25 of 42 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns. He added 115 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. KJ Millwood began the night as the second-leading receiver in Class A and lived up to that billing with eight receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown.
“(Bornhorst and Millwood) played fantastic, but everyone played fantastic,” Gruhn said. “They have a great connection, but we had a lot of receivers catch footballs. JD Roark, Evan Pitts, Holden Cooper; they all played great. To put up 35 points on this defense is pretty good. They have some cats who can play.”
Six different Lions recorded a catch, while Dillon Knepp ran for 88 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Roark had 47 yards and a score on four catches, while Pitts produced 47 yards via three receptions.
Lakeview Academy amassed 448 yards on 74 plays against George Walton, which was allowing just 10.2 points per game (sixth-best in Class A) entering Friday night.
The Bulldogs’ offense relied on fullback Will Wolf, who rushed 14 times for 159 yards and three touchdowns. George Walton attempted only one pass but averaged 7.6 yards per carry, sinking the Lions lower in the region standings and delivering a blow to their playoff hopes.
“You can’t control all that,” Gruhn said of his team’s uphill battle to make the postseason. “If you spend your time worrying about that, it’ll drive you crazy. So we’ll just come back on Monday and try to do things to get better.”
Lakeview Academy hosts Hebron Christian Academy next Friday in its final home game of the season.