LAPEL — Friday night’s football game at Lapel High School between the Bulldogs and Eastern Hancock was a back-and-forth, entertaining shootout, but it was just the precursor for what’s to come tomorrow.
The Bulldogs and Royals will meet again tomorrow in back-to-back weeks for the start of sectional play.
While tomorrow’s matchup is the one more important to both teams, Lapel’s 36-31 win on Friday was still a big one.
With the win over the Royals, Lapel will be entering postseason play on a three-game win streak.
Helping lead the Bulldogs to their third straight win was sophomore quarterback Devin Craig, who threw for 367 yards and five touchdowns.
Following an Eastern Hancock punt on the game’s opening drive, Lapel marched downfield and Craig threw his first touchdown pass of the night. He hit receiver Rylie Hudson on a 10-yard pass to give the Bulldogs an early 7-0 lead.
The Royals tied things back up on an eight-play scoring drive capped off by a 10-yard Mark Kube touchdown run. The touchdown was the beginning of a big night for Kube, who ran the ball on all eight plays of the drive, and in total scored four touchdowns on the night.
After a 7-7 opening quarter, the two teams traded big scoring plays in the second frame.
While the Bulldogs and Royals traded scores, they came from the usual suspects.
For the Bulldogs, Craig hit Logan White on a 15-yard touchdown pass to open the quarter, connected with Jaxson Cripe on a 12-yard touchdown later in the quarter, and in the closing minute, a tipped pass by the Royals found the hands of Brice Burress.
Eastern Hancock, and Kube, answered nearly every score with big plays of their own.
Early in the quarter, Kube broke off a 41-yard touchdown run, later he scored from eight yards out, and in the closing seconds of the half, Aaron Redmon knocked in a 37-yard field goal to cut the Bulldogs lead to 29-24 entering the break.
A high-scoring first half was followed by a low-scoring second half.
Craig’s fifth touchdown came early in the third quarter when he found Burress on a short pass into the end zone. The score was set up by a 68-yard completion to White.
Eastern Hancock quarterback Elijah Edon answered with a 4-yard touchdown to Kayden Ruble to trim the Bulldogs lead back down to five, but in steady rain, Lapel held strong in the fourth quarter.
With just under three minutes remaining, and the Royals threatening to score and take the lead, Edon dropped back on a fourth down play from the Bulldogs 15-yard line and slipped, giving Lapel back the ball and the eventual 36-31 win.
White led Lapel receivers with eight catches for 141 yards and one touchdown, Burress caught 10 passes for 95 yards and two scores, Hudson caught five passes for 96 yards and one touchdown, and Cripe caught two passes for 14 yards and a touchdown.
Jack Miller led the ground game with 27 attempts for 90 yards.
Braken Little was the leading tackler for Lapel with 12, Isaiah Young added 11 tackles and 1 tackle for loss, and Chandler Lowes had the Bulldogs lone sack.
Andrew Evelo threw for a two-point conversion and stalled an Eastern Hancock drive with a fourth-quarter interception.
The rematch between Lapel and Eastern Hancock will be tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Eastern Hancock. Last season, the Bulldogs and Royals met twice as well, with Eastern winning the regular season finale, but the Bulldogs winning the sectional semifinal matchup.