STEVENSVILLE — Lakeshore’s long football playoff streak could be in jeopardy.
The Lancers have made the playoffs 21 straight years, but following a tough 14-13 conference loss to visiting Portage Central here Saturday morning, coach Bryan Keim’s Lancers fell to 2-3.
It takes six wins to qualify automatically, leaving Lakeshore with little room for error in its remaining four regular-season encounters. A number of five-win teams are usually needed to fill out the field, like the Lancers were last season.
“We’re not a real good football team right now,” stated Keim. “This one went pretty much how I thought it would go. We ran the ball well, we threw it well, but we’ve got to execute the simple details and kick an extra point. Those (extra-point PATs) have been automatic. Bottom line, they beat us.”
“Our offense is going to be what it is right now,” added Keim. “Our prior offense showed that we weren’t going to be able to move the ball consistently against good teams. We gave that other (passing) offense a try and it didn’t work.”
Lakeshore had a chance to knot the scored at 14, but Jimmy Gillette, in a rare miss, hooked his PAT attempt wide left with 7:20 remaining following a 3-yard TD run by Zeke Rohl.
After both teams went three-and-out, the Mustangs with 4:01 left ate up most of the clock as Lakeshore had earlier used up all its timeouts. Portage Central punted and the ball rolled dead on the Lancers 22-yard line. With only six seconds remaining Gillette connected on a 48-yard bomb to Ja’Kobe Young as time ran out.
Lakeshore was without its top receiver as Grant Ruddell missed the game due to a (sinus) ailment, according to Keim. In addition defensive back Andrew Lies broke his arm during the game and two-way performer JJ Bushu, left the game early after reaggravating a prior injury.
“The injury bug continues to mount on us,” added Keim, whose squad fell to 1-3 in the SMAC West and 2-3 overall. Portage Central improved to 1-1 in the West and 3-2 overall.
Lakeshore took the opening kickoff and marched 71 yards on 8 plays, with Aiden Jackson scoring on a 5-yard scamper, Gillette’s PAT was good giving the Lancers a 7-0 lead.
But Portage Central took a 14-7 lead at the half on two second-period TDs — a 3-yard run by Ben Cunningham, and a 1-yard plunge by junior quarterback Luke Leto, who is considered one of the top high school baseball prospects in America.
Jackson led Lakeshore rushers with 81 yards on 12 carries. Gillette completed 9 of 21 aerials for 142 yards, but was picked off twice.
Lakeshore travels to Battle Creek Lakeview next Friday night.
Portage Central 14, Lakeshore 13
Portage Central 0 14 0 0 - 14
Lakeshore 7 0 0 6 - 13
L - Aiden Jackson 5 run (Jimmy Gillette kick)
PC - Ben Cunningham 3 run (Y. Mumuni kick)
PC - Luke Leto 1 run (Mumuni kick
L -Zeke Rohl 3 run (kick failed)
First downs 11 16
Total net yards 170 272
Rushes-yards 37-80 29-130
Passing yards 90 142
Comp-att-int 6-16-1 9-21-2
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 4-23 4-28
Punts-avg. 5-38.8 4-23.8
Possession time 27:23 20:37
TOP INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Rushing - PC: Evan Williams 8-35, Luke Leto 14-32. LKS: Aiden Jackson 12-81, Zeke Rohl 11-38.
Passing - PC: 6-16-1-90. LKS: Gillette 9-21-2-142.
Receiving - PC: Grant Pikkaart 3-82. LKS: Riley Adams 6-101, Ja’Kobe Young 2-45.
Tackles - PC: Tyler Stolski 7, LKS: Kaleb Tollefson 9, Dylan Clem 7