Lakeland 31, Brandon 17

The Eagles take two first-half leads against the Dreadnaughts, but mistakes prove costly.

By JOE SMITH, Times Staff Writer
Published November 17, 2007

BRANDON - The pregame speech from Brandon coaches Friday night was simple.

"We all bleed the same."

The Eagles, hosting three-time defending state champion Lakeland in a region quarterfinal, were told to look past the hype and remember the Dreadnaughts are, in fact, human.

Brandon bought in, taking two first-half leads against the Dreadnaughts. It wasn't until three minutes left, when Dreadnaughts quarterback Jarred Haggins' sensational scramble on fourth and 11 set up their final score, that the favorites sealed the deal.

"We should have won this game," said Brandon senior tailback Marquel Gilmore, who had 120 yards on 22 carries. "We played well but made some mistakes."

That could be said for both teams, which each committed four turnovers. Lakeland committed five personal fouls (11 penalties, 105 yards), many of which extended Eagles drives.

That included Brandon's first score, a 10-yard pass from Tracy Burr to Samir Baker six minutes in. Baker (6 carries, 18 yards), playing through pain of a high ankle sprain, clearly wasn't his typical self. But Burr (13-20, 90 yards, two TDs) and Gilmore picked up the slack.

Lakeland (10-1) answered back after Baker's score in less than two minutes, tying it on one of three touchdown runs by senior T.K. Lamb. The Dreadnaughts rushed for 304 yards on 29 carries.

But the biggest was a 70-yard scamper by freshman Javares McCroy. The touchdown, which came just over a minute after Brandon (7-4) went up 14-10 lead, gave Lakeland the lead for good.

Lakeland 31 Brandon 17