By SCOTT COTTOS
TIFFIN — Lakota’s defense wasn’t the first to have problems containing Tiffin Calvert running back Austin Jones this season. And it probably won’t be the last.
The 262 yards of damage that Jones caused on Saturday night was capped by a 70-yard dash on his 22nd carry with 1:40 remaining, giving the Senecas a 34-28 victory over Lakota in a Sandusky Bay Conference River Division contest at Frost-Kalnow Stadium.
Jones’ four-touchdown night helped Calvert improve to 4-3 overall and 2-0 in the River Division, good for a first-place tie with Margaretta. The Raiders saw their four-game winning streak snapped and slipped to 4-3 overall and 1-1 in the River Division.
Lakota contained Jones, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound junior, in stretches. But suddenly he would pop free and speed away.
His 70-yard score followed touchdown dashes of 52 yards in the first quarter, 19 yards in the second and 24 yards in the fourth.
“With a kid who’s that fast and that explosive, you can’t miss tackles — and we did,” first-year Raiders coach Mike Lento said. “For the most part, we said, ‘If we can get a body on him, we’re fine. But if he gets out in the open, he’s the fastest kid in the league, and if the fastest kid in the league gets open like that, it’s going to be hard to catch him. We saw that multiple times tonight — and on that last drive.”
Lakota’s last possession started promisingly. With an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after Jones’ touchdown assessed on the ensuing kickoff, Lucas Streacker returned the kickoff 28 yards to get the Raiders started at Calvert’s 37.
Lakota, however, was called for holding on its first play. Quarterback Tyler Gabel then threw to Colton Rader for 3 yards before the Senecas’ defensive line teed off on its pass rush and threw Gabel for losses of 5 and 6 yards, putting the outcome out of doubt with 23 seconds left.
“We’re still working on ourselves,” Lento said. “We can’t have penalties there. When you have penalties like that, it keeps driving you back and you’re digging a hole and digging a hole, and unfortunately we couldn’t come out of it.”
Jones’ first two touchdowns and a 29-yard touchdown pass from Park Hemminger to Zach Conn helped the Senecas build a 20-14 halftime lead. The Raiders’ first-half scores came on an 11-yard pass from Gabel to Levi Myers and a Gabel scramble that covered 8 yards.
Gabel again ran for a touchdown, this time from 14 yards away with 6:15 left in the third quarter, and Streacker’s PAT kick put Lakota up 21-20 after a 13-play, 72-yard march.
The Raiders extended their lead to 28-20 with Gabel’s 32-yard scoring pass to Streacker with 8:44 to play in the game. Their next possession, after Jones’ 24-yard scoring run and Hemminger’s conversion pass made it 28-28, ended with a punt being downed at Calvert’s 1.
Hemminger threw to Robby Paul for 29 yards on second and 10, and Jones then burst through the Raiders’ defense for the deciding touchdown.
Gabel finished the night 24 of 39 passing for 261 yards and no interceptions.
Lakota 7 7 7 7 — 28
Tiffin Calvert 14 6 0 14 — 34
TC — Jones 52 run (Ardner kick)
LAK — Myers 11 pass from Gabel (Streacker kick)
TC — Conn 29 pass from Hemminger (Ardner kick)
LAK — Gabel 8 run (Streacker kick)
TC — Jones 19 run (kick failed)
LAK — Gabel 14 run (Streacker kick)
LAK — Streacker 32 pass from Gabel (Streacker kick)
TC “” Jones 24 run (Recker pass from Hemminger)
TC “” Jones 70 run (kick blocked)
First Downs 19 13
Rushes-yards 36-78 30-311
Passing Yards 261 129
Comp-Att-Int 14-23-0 7-20-0
Punts-Avg. 1-33.0 3-36.7
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 8-122 8-75