Zach Furness

Zach Furness, defensive end and safety, plays a wide receiver for the Lejeune Devil Pups at the Lejeune High School athletic field  on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Aug. 30. 

After losing their star wide receiver in the home opener, the Lejeune High School Devil Pups had two options with the way to handle tonight’s game without senior Mathew Peterman.  They could either fall down or get up facing their opponent's head on.  The Devil Pups (0-3) chose the latter of the two.

The Lakewood High School Leopards defeated the Lejeune High School Devil Pups 30-6 at the Lejeune High School Athletic Stadium on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Aug. 30. 

“The kids tonight never gave up making good plays like making the interception, stripping the ball on the one-yard line and catching the ball in the end zone running it back 45 yards to midfield,” said Jim Gardiner, LHS head coach. “Our running back ran the ball 140 yards effectively and our quarterback played well scrambling on the field. In the second half, we exploited a little hole in their defense for almost 150 yards.”

The Leopards (3-0) held a 12-0 lead after the first quarter of play.  Senior running back Jahdon Smith for Lakewood scored twice, once on a 37-yard catch and the second with a four-yard run.

“We really worked hard tonight but it wasn’t the best win that we have had,” said Smith. “We need to work on having focus and discipline. When you come here to play football, you need to have a lot of respect because people here (on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune) have a lot of discipline. They serve our country and it is honor to play football here.”

On defense, senior linebacker and tackle Jaylen Torres held the Devil Pups back on defense.

“Our opponents tonight challenged us on the football field,” said Torres. “We could have played a lot better. We need to work on both our offense and defense to get better on the football field.”

With 3:35 left in the second quarter, junior quarterback Darnell Collins ran the ball in for a 3-yard touchdown run. Lakewood went into the halftime with an 18-6 lead.

“We worked hard tonight but we lacked a lot of discipline,” said Barrett Sloan, Lakewood head coach. “Hats off to Lejeune football who came fired up playing with discipline. The score tonight did not reflect how we did tonight, they gave us a tight ball game.  Monday we will start preparing for our first home game against Midway High School.”

Smith put the Leopards up 24-6 with a three-yard touchdown with 2:56 left in the third quarter.  Lejeune’s sophomore wide receiver and defensive back Zach Furness intercepted the ball in the end zone running it back to midfield for 45 yards.

“When I made the interception, the quarterback over through it so I just had to locate the ball,” said Furness. “I am working on tackling and brining the ball all the way in when I am on offense. It is fun playing on this team and it seems that we are getting better every week. I am excited to see what happens next for our team going into the rest of the season.”

Defense was something that Gardiner constantly emphasized to his team last week.  The Devil Pups changed their mindset and game plan for the game against Lakewood.

“I am impressed with the kids and they played hard tonight,” said Gardiner. “We put in a new formation on defense switched to a 5-3 defense switching from the 4-4.  The 5-3 defense really helped us tonight slowing down those strong boys tonight on the other team. We are now up to 28 guys on the team and maybe we can get up to 30 next week after picking up some players this week—we are a work in progress.”

The Devil Pups return to action on the road on Sept. 7 taking on North Duplin High School at 7 pm.