Deer Lakes shakes off slow start to cruise past Mt. Pleasant

Friday, September 21, 2018 | 10:33 PM

A second-quarter scoring barrage helped Deer Lakes overcome a slow start and blow past Mt. Pleasant, 42-14, in a Class AAA Big East Conference matchup Friday.

Both teams started sluggishly, but a muffed punt by Mt. Pleasant late in the first quarter set up Deer Lakes deep in Vikings territory and led to the first touchdown of the night: quarterback Aris Hasley’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Jared Colton. The next Deer Lakes possession also went for a score, when receiver Ethan Bender took the ball 72 yards on a jet sweep.

The Lancers never looked back, racking up 35 unanswered points before the Vikings finally got on the board in the fourth quarter. Hasley completed 17 of 26 passes for 259 yards and three touchdowns.

“His composure (was outstanding). He doesn’t seem to lose it. Things go wrong, and he grabs the team by the horns and keeps them composed,” Deer Lakes coach Tim Burk said. “He’s really gaining control of (the offense). He understands what I’m looking for, understands what we’re reading. And if the read’s not there, he either throws it away or runs it.”

Penalties were an issue for Mt. Pleasant, which racked up two holds, a false start and a personal foul in the first half. A muffed punt and a missed field goal added to the Vikings’ rough night.

“They’re a very good football team, and they beat us easily tonight,” Mt. Pleasant coach Jason Fazekas said. “You try your best. You try to practice well, but it’s not an excuse. We have to play better and get better come Monday.”

The Deer Lakes defense harassed the Vikings all evening. Mt. Pleasant running back Ian Sutherland was held to 38 yards on 16 carries.

“Hats off to this defense and these kids. It’s purely my kids,” Burk said. “When you give up 400 yards last week, that’s a real humbling thing. But these kids didn’t stop believing. … They finally put it together.”

There were a few bright spots for Mt. Pleasant. The pass rush was effective at pressuring Hasley, forcing a fumble early in the fourth quarter that set up the Vikings’ first score: a 16-yard run by freshman tailback Aaron Alakson. The Vikings forced another turnover on the next Lancers possession, leading to a 61-yard touchdown pass from Luke Pieszak to Jacob Johnson.

Colton’s 9-yard touchdown run put the finishing touches on the victory for Deer Lakes.

Nathanael Gabler is a freelance writer.

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