Dickinson pounces on mistake-prone Clear Lake, 49-7
Larry McRae hoped to not witness the unpardonable sin Saturday evening in a District 24-6A opener against the Dickinson Gators.
The truth of the matter? The Clear Lake head football coach viewed it first-hand on multiple occasions.
Two miscues on special teams and an interception return for a touchdown resulted in three easy touchdowns for unbeaten Dickinson which strolled to a 49-7 victory at Challenger Columbia Stadium.
The Falcons fumbled one kickoff, simply didn’t pick up the ball at its own six-yard line on another, and each time Dickinson’s Malachi Espitia recovered to set up easy scores.
Throw in another Falcon interception which led to a TD, and toss in a costly personal foul penalty which negated a quarterback sack and provided another Dickinson score, and it all added up to a lousy day at the office for Clear Lake.
“Those things are unforgivable,” McRae said. “There’s no excuse for those things - just huge mistakes. We gave them 14 points in the kicking game.
“You don’t want to make it easy on those guys, they’re already good enough.”
Before all that misfortune occurred, Clear Lake trailed just 7-0 with less than a minute remaining in the opening period.
However, Pandora’s Box burst open with 25 seconds left in the quarter when Dickinson’s Paul Smith picked off a Shae Suiaunoa pass and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown.
That theft stoked the fire for the Gators, who would cross the goal line four more times in the half in building a 35-0 advantage.
An interception by Landon Roque at the Falcon 21-yard line preceded four consecutive rushes by Jordan Green, whose five-yard carry into the end zone resulted in a 21-0 cushion with 10 minutes left in the half.
Lake failed to convert a fourth-and-six at the Gator 27 yard line on its next possession, and Dickinson answered with a 13-play, 73-yard touchdown march.
That methodical drive, which featured only two passes, was capped with Green’s 1-yard run as the advantage swelled to 28-0 at the 3:12 mark of the second period.
A dire situation quickly turned worse for the Falcons when a deep kickoff wasn’t fielded inside the 10 yard line. The ever-present Espitia dove on it at the Clear Lake six.
Two plays later, Dickinson quarterback Mike Welch was into the end zone as the bulge widened to 35-0 with 2:45 showing in the second quarter.
Lake’s troubles compounded in the third quarter when Dickinson took the second-half kickoff and drove 70 yards for a score in 12 plays. After a Welch 1-yard run at the 7:50 mark, it was 42-0.
The Falcons then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Espitia was the man on the spot, recovering at the Lake 32.
From there, Dickinson used 11 plays to reach the end zone with reserve quarterback Marlon Allen connecting with David De Los Santos from seven yards to make it 49-0. With 3:04 left in the third quarter, Lake hadn’t possessed the ball in the second half.
The Falcons finally scored with 10:21 left in the game when an 11-play drive culminated with a 24-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Donovan Sweeney to wide receiver/quarterback Suiaunoa.
The score was one of the few highlights on a none-too-memorable evening for the Falcons.
Dickinson head coach John Snelson was obviously pleased his team performed well in all phases of the game.
“Coach (Mike) Lawrence, our special teams coordinator, does a good job of putting a big emphasis on that,” Snelson said. “Our kids do as well, and (special teams) played a very, very big part.”
The pick-six from Smith, though, ignited what transpired afterward.
“No doubt, whenever you can score on defense or special teams, it just gives you momentum,” Snelson said. “Whenever you get momentum on your sideline, you’ll always have a better shot.
“Lake is so talented on offense - they have a lot of weapons. We were needing to put a little pressure on them and make them one-dimensional. Their running game is good and their passing game is strong. I was proud of our defense to come up with a touchdown.”
Snelson said there’s little time to enjoy the win.
“We’ve got to clean up some ball security issues and penalty issues,” he said. “We have a short week. We’ve got Creek on Friday, and they’re cardiac cats that just keep on fighting. They find a way to be in it and win at the end. We need to not beat ourselves.”
McRae said his team needs to quickly move forward.
“Our destination is to go to the playoffs,” the Lake coach said. “We didn’t get that one today, but we’ve got five more in front of us that we do have to get.
“We’ve got a good Alvin team and then an off week the following week. Our hope is to be 1-1 going into the off week.
“More than a couple of things didn’t go our way today. We’ll bounce back. That’s our only choice. This isn’t a team to duck their heads or tuck their tails. They’ve always fought back when we demanded it of them.”