Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Submit News | UPickEm Contest | Football Frenzy | Home RSS

Secret to success

Lakeview wins share of AAC National

October 26, 2013
By MIKE McLAIN - Tribune Chronicle ( , Underthelights

CORTLAND - Remember when Lakeview was 0-3 and inquiring minds wondered what was wrong with the Bulldogs.

Six straight wins later those same minds are wondering what the secret is to their success.

From what could be seen on a cold, damp night at Don Richards Memorial Stadium Friday, it's really no secret. The Bulldogs handled the Liberty Leopards, 33-6, with a power running game, timely passing by quarterback Angelo Marino and a ballhawking defense.

Article Photos

Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Lakeview quarterback Angelo Marino rushes into the end zone against Liberty untouched and looks to the referee for the touchdown signal during first-quarter action. Lakeview won, 33-6, and captured at least a share of the All-American Conferece, National Division title.

It added up to a win that gives Lakeview a 6-3 record with a 5-0 mark and at least a share of the All-American Conference, National Division title. The Leopards (6-3) are a game back in the division standings at 4-1.

You get the feeling that the Bulldogs persevered through the tough times early in the season with a collective chip on their shoulders. That made the post-game celebration all the more joyous.

"Our one goal going back to camp was these kids wanted to win the conference," Bulldogs coach Tom Pavlansky said. "They worked tremendously hard for the opportunity. They prepared well enough and every single day they worked their tails off. They believed in each other. Now we can say we have at least a share of the championship. I can't be more proud of our kids and our coaches."

It started with the defense, which didn't allow a point in holding the Leopards' high-powered offense in check. Liberty's lone touchdown came when Lynn Bowden threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Clark out of punt formation on the game's first possession. The pass for the extra two points failed.

The Leopards churned out 140 rushing yards, but Bowden, a freshman with plenty of upside, was limited to 98 yards on 26 carries.

"They have tremendous weapons over there," Pavlansky said. "We had to keep the big play away. Our kids found themselves in the right position, and they made plays. They weren't going to be denied."

The Bulldogs rushed for 209 yards, led by junior Michael Mannella with 111 and a 10-yard touchdown run on 19 carries. Marino had 54 yards and touchdown runs of 4 and 12 yards. The sophomore also threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Pishotti.

"It was a very physical game," Mannella said. "Every week is physical. We also had a very physical week in practice. It all goes back to preparation."

Leopards coach Kevin Cylar was unconventional in eschewing punts for opportunities to keep drives alive, no matter what the field position. The tactic worked perfectly on the touchdown pass to Clark, but the Leopards failed to convert first downs on seven fourth-down attempts. One ended with an interception by Nick Boldt and another on a fumble that was recovered by Luke Harrison.

"From the film that we had they punted the ball a couple of times," Pavlansky said. "I wasn't necessarily surprised. Everybody has to do what they think is best for their team."

The Bulldogs followed Clark's touchdown with a 76-yard drive that culminated with a 4-yard touchdown run by Marino. The extra-point kick was blocked to keep the score even at 6-6.

Marino's 12-yard scoring run and Mannella's touchdown scamper gave the Bulldogs a 19-6 halftime advantage. Marino's touchdown pass to Pishotti extended the lead to 26-6, and Jake Pishotti capped off the scoring with a 14-yard run late in the third quarter.

"It's northeastern Ohio football," Mannella said of the playing conditions. "We practiced in it all week. We were ready to go."

That was plain to see.