LAKE PLACID - The Green Dragons may have wished this one was rained out.
Sarasota Cardinal Mooney spoiled Lake Placid's home opener on Friday night, routing the Dragons by a score of 44-7. The Class 3A, District 6 Cougars improved to 2-0 on the season while 4A-6 Lake Placid dropped to 1-1.
But don't let the final score fool you, coach Jason Holden was still plenty proud of his team.
"We played hard, but our execution was terrible," Holden said. "But this team, everybody is becoming a leader. They've come together as a team."
In the first quarter, the Dragons couldn't get out of their own way. After Cardinal Mooney took the opening kickoff into Lake Placid territory, the Dragons held the Cougars to a field goal. But Lake Placid followed the strong defensive stand with fumbles on back-to-back plays, and Cardinal Mooney was able to scoop up the second one and scamper into the end zone to take a quick 9-0 lead, as the Cougars missed the extra point.
The Cougars put together another solid drive into Dragons territory, but once again, Lake Placid's defense held, and blocked Cardinal Mooney's 30-yard attempt.
With just over five minutes remaining in the first half, Lake Placid put together its best drive of the night. Eldon McKenzie got his number called first, taking the ball on back-to-back runs down close to mid-field. Marquavein Copeland followed him, gaining about four yards, before Jerry Field's rushing attempt was stuffed by Cardinal Mooney.
Facing a fourth down and just out of field goal range, Holden made the gutsy decision to go for it.
And it paid off, as quarterback Robert Walton faked the handoff and zipped the ball down field to a wide open Alec Sassin, who walked in for the touchdown. Lake Placid booted the extra point and it was 9-7 with just under four minutes left to go in the half.
"Everything we were throwing was open, but we were just too amped up, so we were dropping a lot of balls," Holden said. "But Robert made a great throw and Alec - he always catches the ball - in practice or whenever."
The elation from Lake Placid's fans was short lived, however, Demardre Patterson took the ball on the first play of Cardinal Mooney's next possession for a 63-yard touchdown run.
Lake Placid got the ball back at its own 20-yard line, where another drive stalled. With the Dragons facing a third-and-15, Cardinal Mooney called a time out hoping to ensure its offense a handful of minutes to try and score before the half.
And on second-and-one, Cougar quarterback Reese Vita whipped a bomb to Austin Leach, who broke a shoe-string tackle to cross the goal line and give Cardinal Mooney a 23-7 halftime lead.
More mistakes and missed opportunities plagued Lake Placid in the second half. A turnover on downs gave Cardinal Mooney the ball back in Dragons territory, and the Cougars put a quick drive together which ended with Patterson scoring his second touchdown of the game.
The Dragons turned the ball over on the following play, after Walton bobbled a high snap, and Cardinal Mooney scored its second defensive touchdown to make it 37-7.
The Cougars put one final drive together thanks to another handful of big runs from Patterson, who scored his third touchdown of the game with just under five minutes left to play to put Cardinal Mooney up by 37 points.
In the postgame huddle, Holden spoke to his team about their intensity level, telling them that they have to bring more to each game than just their emotions.
"We have to learn that you can't just come out, going full-speed, and thinking that's going to win you games," he said. "You still have to cut out all the mistakes."
"But the leaders, they've taken over this team better than any team I've been associated with - as a player as a coach, anything - so we're on the verge of greatness right there."
"Now we have to learn how to translate that into play."
Lake Placid will be on the road next week against 5A-15 Golden Gate in Naples. Kick off is scheduled for 7 p.m.