By FRANK PASTOR
© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 19, 2001
CLEARWATER -- Lakewood got a game it had to have, but it nearly cost the Spartans a player they can't afford to be without.
Lakewood rolled up 444 yards, including 369 on the ground, and Darien Copeland scored 3 touchdowns as the Spartans knocked Countryside off the ball and out of the playoff picture with a 38-6 win Thursday at Cougar Field.
But quarterback Pat Carter, Lakewood's most important offensive player, left in the fourth quarter after taking a shot to the head from Countryside defensive back Jermaine Filer.
"He was kind of swimmy-headed, but by the end of the game he was back to chipper," said Lakewood coach Brian Bruch, who expects to have Carter back for next week's game against Dixie Hollins.
Lakewood's playoff hopes appear to be in better shape.
The win keeps the Spartans (6-2, 3-1) in second place in Class 4A, District 9. They will stay there or move into a tie for first depending on today's game between Dixie Hollins (3-0 district) and Largo (2-1).
Countryside (2-6, 1-3), meanwhile, dropped out of playoff contention.
"All of our district games, we had to have," Bruch said. "We painted ourselves into a corner by losing to Largo. We've got to win them all from here on out."
Lakewood left nothing to chance, scoring on three of its first five possessions to take a 21-6 halftime lead.
Copeland's 2-yard touchdown run with 1:05 left in the second quarter capped a 1-minute, 3-second drive that ended Countryside's hopes.
"That was huge," Bruch said. "You can put an exclamation point on that."
Copeland finished with 146 yards on 20 carries. He also caught three passes for 41 yards.
Safety Chester Johnson, a replacement for Shawn Stewart (twisted ankle), aided a defense that held Countryside to 158 total yards.
Jon Peattie kicked field goals of 46 and 30 yards for Countryside's only points.