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Lake Nona pulls away from Bulldogs, 49-21

Posted on Monday, October 9, 2017 at 10:47 pm

By Rick Pedone
Sports Editor

St. Cloud’s hopes of winning the 7A-5 district football championship took a serious blow Monday when host Lake Nona rolled up 482 yards of offense in a 49-21 victory.

The Bulldogs (3-4, 2-2) fought back from a two-touchdown deficit in the first half to tie the score at 21, but the Lions led 28-21 at the half and shut St. Cloud out after the intermission. Lake Nona quarterback Michael Kern (21-31-324, 4 TDs) made good use of his fleet of sure-handed receivers to keep the pressure on the St. Cloud defense.

“They are a good team, very

Charles Robinson rushed for 125  yards and a touchdown against Lake Nona. Photo/Rob Herbert

well-coached,” St. Cloud Coach Bryan Smart said. “I was proud of our team for the way we hung with them

for three, or three-and-a-half quarters, but you have to play four quarters to beat a team like this.”

Lake Nona (4-1, 3-0) scored on its first two possessions to go up 14-0, but the Bulldogs came back when quarterback Colt Smith (18-24-166, 1 TD) found Johnny Fritz on a 34-yard scoring pass to close the gap to 14-7 late in the first quarter. The Lions went ahead 21-7, but the Bulldogs drove 69 yards to pull within a score on Seth Johnson’s 3-yard run.

When defensive back Romeo Medina recovered a Lions fumble on the ensuing possession, St. Cloud drove 55 yards to tie on Charles Robinson’s 2-yard plunge. Robinson, the Bulldogs’ workhorse, carried 34 times for 125 yards.

The Lions countered with another score to take the lead with 1:24 remaining in the second quarter. Kern, on fourth-and-5, found Anthony Manning on the sideline for a 25-yard scoring throw and a 28-21 lead.

Although St. Cloud kept the ball for the first six minutes of the third quarter, Robinson was stopped for no gain on fourth down at the Lake Nona 30. Kern threw 26-yard TD passes to Anthony Queeley (7-124, 1 TD) and Ethan Johnson on the Lions’ next two possessions to put the game out of reach.

“We got stopped on a couple of fourth-and-2s and third-and-1s that really hurt us,” Smart said.

St. Cloud was playing its second game in four days because of a schedule adjustment for Hurricane Irma. Smart said fatigue may have played a role in the outcome.

“It’s tough,” he said. “But, you have to give them credit. They played well.”

With the district championship probably out of reach, St. Cloud will concentrate on winning its last three games in an attempt to earn a regional at-large berth. That starts Friday when St. Cloud visits winless Celebration (0-6).

After that, St. Cloud goes to Naples Barron Collier and then finishes the regular season at district foe East River.

“I think we have a chance (for an at-large berth),” he said. “Barron Collier and East River are both playoff teams (from last season). That’s why we played this tough schedule.”

Beating playoff teams from the past two seasons earns three bonus points under the Florida High School  Athletic Association’s new points format.

Lake Nona visits Harmony Thursday in a big 7A-5 contest.