SHRUB OAK, N.Y. – Lakeland football, spurred on by a fast start and a raucous student body, won its homecoming night game, 52-6, against Poughkeepsie on Friday, Sept. 13.
Decked out in black clothing and making noise all night, the students were in rare form during the “blackout.”
“They were pumped tonight,” Lakeland’s Matt Makar said of the fans. “It’s a big, big accomplishment, winning your home opener. We did our best, running the ball hard, and throwing it.”
Makar, who carried the ball 8 times for 102 yards and 3 touchdowns, got the Hornets on the board with two first-quarter touchdown runs of 32 and 8 yards, the second of which put Lakeland up 13-0 with 6:33 remaining in the opening quarter.
He credited his linemen—Brandon Gu, Mike Mulhern, Jason Green, Jorge Duque and Carl Lund—for clearing space for him.
“They make their blocks, I run right through the holes,” he said. “It’s all on them.”
Lakeland went up 20-0 when Landon Ruggieri intercepted a Poughkeepsie pass on the Pioneers’ next possession and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown.
“To be honest, when it came to the defense, we wanted to focus on the basics this week,” said Lakeland coach Mike Meadows. “Every time I would talk to them, we talked about breaking down, wrapping and doing your job. So, we kept it very simple on the defensive side of the ball and we knew we were going to have opportunities to get some turnovers and we capitalized on them tonight.”
Lakeland’s offense did a 180 from its opening night shutout loss to Brewster, when quarterback Tyler Santucci completed just 5 of 19 passes.
Against Poughkeepsie, Santucci completed 11 of 12 passed for 135 yards. He finished off the first-quarter scoring when he connected with Rob Nardelli on a 13-yard touchdown pass, giving Lakeland a 27-0 lead.
“Tyler’s a really talented quarterback,” Meadows said. “We struggled a little bit in the passing game last week but it was nice to get some confidence in it this week. We made some big throws and some big plays in the passing game as well as the running game. Matt [Makar] is a heck of a running back as well.”
Makar continued the Hornets’ momentum when he scored on a 12-yard touchdown run with 5:35 to go in the second quarter, giving Lakeland a 34-0 advantage.
“Momentum’s huge,” Makar said. “Once you keep scoring, you just have to keep going, can’t keep your heads down. Everyone kept their heads up and just kept going through the game.”
Lakeland (1-1) added to its lead with an 11-yard touchdown scamper by Mike Castelli (5 rushes, 70 yards), a safety by Lund and a 9-yard touchdown run by Adam Labriola, which put the Hornets up 49-0 at halftime.
After a scoreless third quarter, Kieran Ray (5 for 7 on extra points), connected on a 25-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, making the score 52-0.
Danny Libretti (6 catches, 70 yards) and John Guifridda (7 tackles) also contributed to the Hornets’ victory, which was in large part ignited by its crowd.
“They bring the energy,” Makar said. “The energy comes from the field from them. They bring it, we are going to bring it back.”
Meadows thought the crowd was “awesome.”
“I truly believe we have one of the best atmospheres in all of Section 1,” Meadows said. “I’ve been saying it for the last two years. Every home game we get more than 1,000 people and it’s a great sight. It’s incredible to have such huge support from our community. We love it.”
Lakeland’s next game will be at 7 p.m. Friday (Sept. 20) at Beacon.
“We have to build every week,” Meadows said. “This is step one. We have to get to step two and get to step three. One step at time.”