Amazing return is game-changer
By P.J. Bonato Special to The News-Sun October 26, 2012 10:15PM
Lakes' Direll Clark (right) makes a nice gain running away from Saint Viator's Connor Kinasz. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 28, 2012 6:06AM
Andrew Spencer’s 84-yard punt return for a touchdown — an effort worthy of being one of the top 10 plays of the day on ESPN’s SportsCenter — keyed the host Lakes Eagles past St. Viator 35-21 on Friday in Round 1 of the Class 6A football playoffs.
Star running back Direll Clark (35 carries, 250 yards) added three TD runs as the Lakes (9-1) advance to Round 2 and a game next week at Lake Forest.
The “1” in Lakes’ 9-1 record is a September loss to Lake Forest.
Spencer broke nearly a half-dozen seemingly sure tackles on his return in the third quarter that gave the Eagles a 28-13 lead.
Moments earlier, Lakes pulled ahead 21-13 on a one-yard TD run by Direll Clark.
Clark’s score offset a St. Viator TD pass of 15 yards from QB Bobby Calmeyn to Ben Dickey that made it 14-13.
In the fourth quarter, Clark scored on an eight-yard run to make it 35-13 and St. Viator tallied on another TD pass from Calmeyn to Dickey.
Lakes led 14-7 after an uneven first half.
The Eagles got on the board first when T.J. Edwards connected with Justin Bergeron on a 17-yard TD pass.
St. Viator got even in the second quarter when Jim Murphy picked off an Edwards pass and took it 38 yards to the house.
But on the ensuing drive, Lakes moved 65 yards to the end zone, with Clark getting the points on a one-yard run.
Lakes had one other chance to score as a blocked punt set the Eagles up in the Red Zone, but Edwards threw a pick in the end zone to end the threat.
For St. Viator, Calmeyn was 16-of-34 passing for 256 yards and two touchdowns and a pair of picks.
Edwards was 7-of-11 passing for 134 yards and two picks.
“We just dominated the line of scrimmage tonight,” said Clark. “Credit the offensive line. They created the holes and I was able to find them.”
As for next week’s rematch with Lake Forest, Clark is eager to see the Scouts again.
“Lake Forest is a big game for me. I felt I didn’t do my part in the first game (a 20-13 loss), but I’m going to carry the load next week.”
Lakes coach Luke Mertens said, “The offensive line and Direll’s effort were outstanding tonight. We knew we’d have to control the clock and that’s exactly what we did.
“Our defense played well also. We held them to 14 points.”
As for next week’s game, Mertens said this: “It’s not many times you get a second chance. We were a couple plays away last time. We really need to play well to win.”
Spencer’s punt return was the play people talked about all second half.
“My guys kept pushing and I found the hole and kept my legs moving,” he said.
Spencer also returned a punt to the house in the first round of the playoffs last year.
Lakes’ Drew Recker had two interceptions and recovered a fumble. He plays defensive back.