|Corey Smith picks off Southwest, scoring a defensive touchdown.|
Early on in the Minneapolis Southwest Lakers 37-21 victory, it was clear this was a new kind of challenge for the Polars. First, running back Morocco Ballard, injured in last week's match, was on the sidelines and not suited up. He would be missed. More importantly however, Lakers' QB Ayrton Scott was a dominating force. The senior was poised in the pocket, could run when the play broke down, and frequently lowered his shoulder to break tackles when most quarterbacks would slide to avoid contact. He passed for 323 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 105 more.
More impressive than his statistics, however, was the fact that...
...Scott remained poised under pressure, frequently converting on third-and-long or fourth down situations. On the Lakers' first scoring possession, Scott fumbled for a loss of 14, then guided the Lakers to a first down, and finally scored on fourth and goal from the 7.
After the ensuing kickoff, back-to-back holding penalties against the Lakers gave them a first and thirty from deep in their own territory. Scott remained unfazed, connecting for a 28-yard gain and eventually leading his team to the Polars' five-yard line. And although North's defense held Southwest out of the end zone, the Polars were called for an offensive holding penalty that resulted in a safety. Moments later, Scott hit Rodney Pierce-Tyler for a 55-yard touchdown pass and the score was 15-7. The Lakers added a field goal as time expired in the first half, making their lead 18-7.
Southwest expanded their lead to 31-7, but to the Polars' credit, they never quit. Freshman quarterback Andrew Janzen-Dunn was put in the game and performed well. He connected with Dontarius Tyler for a 31-yard touchdown pass with 8:30 to go. Less than a minute later, the Lakers' backup quarterback was hit as he threw. Corey Smith (pictured above) caught the broken pass and waltzed into the end zone. Suddenly it was 31-21 with 7:30 left in the game.
While I try not to second-guess coaches, it's hard to understand why the Polars elected to attempt an onsides kick with that much time left in the game. It's at least somewhat understandable, given the Lakers' and Scott's impressive offensive showing. However, the Polars failed to recover, and though their defense held, the offense had a long way to go for a score.
After the Lakers' punt, North brought the ball deep into Lakers' territory before a Southwest interception followed by a touchdown sealed the game at 37-21.