For all but six plays of Friday night, the Celebration’s young defense did a solid job of containing the explosive offense of Lake Nona. Unfortunately those six plays where they didn’t contain the offense went for touchdowns of 45, 21, 22, 50, 66, and 42 yards as the Lions defeated the Storm, 42-0,
“Not much to say about this one, we knew Lake Nona was extremely athletic and explosive,” Storm Head Coach Jay Sobke said. “We had some opportunities early and had we cashed in on those chances it might have been a different story.”
The Storm took the opening kickoff and drove 41 yards down to the Lions 15. But on a second and 10, a botched handoff resulted in a fumble and turnover. Lake Nona responded with a four-play, 85-yard drive capped by a 45-yard touchdown pass from Conner Johnson to Manny Stokes to give the Lions a 7-0 lead.
A failed on-sides kick gave the Storm good field position and a 19 yard reception by Lee Smith and a 16 yard run by Will Bohn gave the Storm another first down in the red zone. But two incomplete passes and two Bonn runs netted just seven yards as the Storm turned the ball over on downs.
After allowing 100 yards on the Storm’s first two possessions, the Lake Nona front four would step up the defensive pressure on Bonn. On the next six possessions of the half, Celebration would gain just one net yard and Bonn would complete just one of 14 attempts for three yards.
Celebration’s defense did come up four defensive stops of their own but a 3-play, 56-yard drive was capped off by a 21-yard touchdown reception by Andre Cooper Jr. and a 22-yard touchdown run by Elijah McMillan gave Lake Nona a 21-0 lead at the half.
Although the Storm would give up 21 more points in the second half, it was again because of big plays and not sustained drives. Late in the third quarter, Johnson threw a pass into the flat to Stokes, who eluded a defensive back and ran 52-yards for a score.
On Lake Nona’s next possession, Johnson lobbed a pass over the middle on a fourth and six play but two Celebration defended collided while trying to make a play and the ball fell into Joey Cochran’s hands for a 66-yard touchdown.
After the Storm fumbled at midfield, the Lions would tack on a late touchdown on a 42-yard run up the middle by Rashawn Vernado.
“I was proud of our defensive effort. We have a lot of young players and they fought hard the whole game,” Sobke added. “Our kids made some nice stops, but the big plays, combined with coming up empty on some offensive drives was just too much to overcome.”
Bonn, who leads the Storm in both passing and rushing this season, had 152 yards of total offense. The Celebration defense had three sacks and an additional tackle for loss. Johnson finished the game 29 of 41 for 422 yards and four touchdowns for Lake Nona.
Celebration, now 3-4 and 1-2 in district play, returns to action on Friday with a home district game against Cypress Creek (0-6, 0-2). Lake Nona (5-2, 2-0) plays Freedom (1-5, 0-2), a 58-0 loser to Osceola last week.