Freshman QB delivers during 39-16 victory over Montgomery

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TJ Hickman, #2, gets in position to make a game changing play near the endzone. Photos by LeRon Massey, Freelance Photographer

The Lakeview Gators finally began their long awaited season Friday, Oct. 2 when they faced off against the Montgomery Tigers. With a Freshman QB at the helm, a lot of questions were up in the air, but Braden Woods came and delivered. Montgomery got the first possession of the game. On just the second play DE Derrick Rock got in the backfield for one of the Gators many tackles for loss. This drive proved defense is going to be the name of the game this year, when just two plays after that S Tevin Hickman leapt in the air to get his first interception of the year at the Gators 24-yard line with 8:57 left in the first quarter.

Then the real question came into play, will the offense live up to last year’s standards? The first play was a long 13-yard run by Dillon Pikes, followed by an 8-yard run by Udonis Jones. Just six plays into his first drive as a starter, Braden Woods throws a deep dime to Tevin Hickman on the right sideline for a 43 yard touchdown pass, putting the Gators up 6-0 with 5:40 left in the quarter. The Gators attempted a PAT kick by Holtz Helms, which is something they did not do at all last year, but it was no good. The Tigers returned the following kickoff to the 50 yard line, but was forced to a quick 3-and-out coming with two beautiful backfield tackles from Derrick Rock once again. Just two plays into the next Gator drive, Hickman showed out once again, speeding off for a 42-yard TD run. Helms was good on this PAT, pushing the lead to 13-0 with 3:21 left in the first quarter. The Tigers got a little momentum on the following drive, starting off with a 13 yard run. They followed up with a long pass down the middle, but thankfully the TD was saved by new CB Alex Perry with a tackle in the open field. Outside pressure from the Gator’s ends let DT Dillon Ireland make three straight tackles to swallow up the run game. The Tigers attempted to air it out on fourth down, but it was deflected by Hickman. Ending the first quarter with a 13-0 lead would be the Gators.

On the Tigers next drive, you guessed it, Rock came up with the sack on fourth down, giving the Gators the ball on their own 31. Woods rushed for 21 yards on two carries on this drive, to set up another big TD run. This time, it’s a 40 yarder from Jones, pushing the Gators lead to 19-0 with 8:08 left in the second. Montgomery pounded hard for on air raid on the next drive.

No. 5 hurdles a Tiger defender

After two incomplete passes, they found the end zone with a 30-yard TD pass and converted the two point try, making it 19-8. The Gators answered right back. After getting nowhere and being forced to a fourth down, the Gators had a little trick up their sleeve. Hickman aired it out 40 yards to Alex Perry, who made a great catch at the 2. One play later, Woods carried it in for a 2-yard TD run, making it 25-8  with 1:26 left in the half.

The Tigers attempted the air raid to get on the board again before halftime, but Hickman would shine once again getting his second pick of the day to end the half. Elvin Waldrup was the name of the second half for the Gators. Starting the first drive with 12 and 17 yard runs on the first two plays. The Gator pounded it out to get to the 1 yard line, where Woods punched it in once again on fourth down, pushing the lead to 33-8 following a 2-point conversion catch from TE Mykel Slaughter. The entire stadium knew the game was all but over with that lead with 5:50 left in the third. On the next Tigers possession, they still hadn’t learned. They attempted a long bomb, but it was intercepted by Perry at the 4. Perry played a fantastic game and is appearing to be the shutdown corner the Gators will lean on this year.

Remember Waldrup?

He took off from the 4 yard line for a whopping 54 yard run. Just two plays later, Woods found his main man again, giving Tevin Hickman yet another 42 yard TD grab to cap off the game at 39-8 with 2:56 left in the third. To start the fourth, the Tigers stuck to their air-it-out game plan, but the Gators came up in a different way. Slaughter got a sack on third down, followed by another sack from new DE Kain Custis to force the turnover. The Gators were forced to kick their only punt of the game on the next drive, but were tackled at the Gator 30-yard line.

The action just let Slaughter get another sack on fourth down with 4:30 left in the game. Woods lost the football on the next drive which set up a 23 yard TD run for the Tigers, but it was too little too late. The Gators took home the victory with a 39-16 blowout. The Gators travel to Holy Savior Menard Friday, Oct. 9 to begin district.