CONNEAUT LAKE — It’s easy to overlook a rough start when the finish is this good.

So it went for the Conneaut Lake football team, which emerged from a 21-6 deficit by scoring five unanswered touchdowns in the second half, besting Sharpsville 37-21 Friday night at Andy Farkas Field.

The win was Lake’s third in a row. It was also the first for Lake over Sharpsville, which had beaten the Indians in each of the previous 10 meetings between the two teams.

But most importantly, the win improved Lake’s record to 3-2 overall and 3-1 in Region 1, putting the team’s first playoff berth since 1999 within reach.

“This feels great,” said Lake center/defensive end Tyler Heberle. “We’ve got a lot of momentum. We’re basically playing like a playoff team right now. And if we can keep this going there’s a good chance that we will get in the playoffs.”

Added Dane Ketcham, a tackle on Lake’s offense and defense; “Everybody’s starting to get it. Everyone is playing with their heart and soul. It’s 23 brothers out there. And we know that if one person has a let down that they’re letting their brothers down.

“That’s the way we played (Friday night).”

Things were looking grim for the Indians in the third quarter after Sharpsville fullback Marcus Llewellyn broke off a 64-yard touchdown run up the middle to give the Blue Devils (1-4, 1-3 Region 1) a 21-6 lead.

The game’s momentum would soon make an abrupt about-face, however.

On Lake’s second play of the ensuing possession, Matt Morian connected with freshman R.J. Baker at midfield. Baker ignited the jets and sped down the sidelines for a 58-yard scoring play, cutting Sharpsville’s lead to 21-12.

“Matt made some real precise throws,” Lake coach Ray Collins said about his quarterback, who was 9-for-13 for 155 yards and hit five different receivers.

“That one to R.J. Baker, I didn’t think he was even open. But Matt zipped it in there. And then how about the speed of that freshman!?”

Sharpsville went three-and-out. Lake got the ball back and marched 52 yards on 10 plays and Cash Horne made it count with a five-yard touchdown run. Sharpsville still led by three — 21-18. But the field was clearly tilted in Conneaut Lake’s direction.

“I knew after that first touchdown (in the second half) that we were going to just keep going,” said Lake lineman/linebacker Willy Bowman.

On Sharpsville’s next possession, Ketcham got into the Blue Devil backfield and knocked the ball out of the hands of Ryan Maurice, Sharpsville’s QB. Baker jumped on it. And on Lake’s first play of the drive, Horne broke a 24-yarder into the end zone practically unnoticed by the Blue Devil “D”. The Lakers led 25-21.

“Once you get Cash Horne going, look out,” said Collins.

And sure enough, Maurice was picked off by Chase Miller on Sharpsville’s next try. Three plays later, Horne broke off a 28-yarder for six more points.

It was his fourth touchdown of the day. He also had a one-yarder in the second quarter. He would finish the game with 159 yards on 22 carries.

And the Lakers still weren’t done. Sharpsville converted a pair of fourth downs on its next possession. But it was all for naught after Lucas Morian picked off Maurice near midfield.

A few plays later, Joe Moon made the Blue Devils pay by busting out a 50-yard touchdown run, which put the final points on the board.

“This was, I think, the first game where we were just firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball,” said Morian. “Offense and defense played a great game.”

Apart from Llewellyn’s 64-yard run, the Blue Devils only had 44 yards in the second half and turned the ball over three times.

The Laker “D” was constantly in the Devils’ backfield toward the end of the game, either pressuring Maurice or sticking the Devils running backs for a loss.

“The defense was really clicking,” said Bowman, who posted two big sacks in the fourth quarter. “The line was getting through, getting some good penetration.”

Sharpsville was led by Llewellyn who rushed for 112 yards on 14 carries. Josh Taylor added 52 yards and a pair of touchdown runs in the first half, both of which were four yards long.

Maurice finished the game going 7-for-13 for 114 yards with two picks. His top target was Damarco Alberty, who made his first start for the Blue Devils, and caught four passes for 72 yards.

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