While the 22-0 final may not suggest it, the Lakeland Union High School football team played their best game of the young season Friday and had several opportunities to take the lead against Medford on the road.
Turnovers plagued the Thunderbirds who moved the ball well on offense and held a bigger Medford team on the defensive side of the ball throughout the game.
Early in the first half, the tone of the game was set as both teams struggled to score despite moving the ball on offense. Medford turned the ball over twice in the first half, with one of those turnovers leading to Lakeland's best scoring chance of the game.
After quarterback John Aguirre hit running back Josh Roza with a long pass play and a horsecollar tackle call moved the ball deeper into the Raiders zone, disaster struck as Lakeland fumbled the ball on the next play, giving it back to Medford.
The Raiders could not capitalize on that posession but later in the half they were the first to find the end zone as they connected on a 17-yard touchdown pass to go up 8-0 at halftime.
In the second half, the Raiders started out with the ball but the Lakeland defense forced a turnover on downs. The Lakeland offense, however, could not do anything with the ball and punted back to Medford.
The Raiders went on a long drive, capped by an 8-yard touchdown run to go up 16-0.
Lakeland, however, was not fazed as they took the ball down the field on their next possession into the Medford red zone. But an interception at the 10 yard line stalled the drive and the Raiders took over.
Medford then went on a long, clock chewing drive that covered 90 yards and ended up with a touchdown run of 8 yards to go up 22-0 midway through the fourth quarter.
Lakeland would drive the ball down the field on each of their next two possessions but could not find the end zone, falling to Medford 22-0.
For more from this game, including comments from head coach Mike Mestelle, see the Tuesday print edition of The Lakeland Times.
Bryan Rose may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.