LAKELAND — The Venice High football team entered Friday night’s game at Lakeland expecting its first true test of the season.
But the Indians had all the answers at Bryant Stadium as they used a big second half to blow by the Dreadnaughts for a 41-20 win.
The loss was just the fourth by Lakeland at its home stadium in the past 18 seasons.
“I think we’re in a good spot right now as a football team,” Venice coach John Peacock said. “I wasn’t sure (what to expect). I didn’t think it was going to be that high of a scoring game to be honest.
“I thought it would be a lot of punting back and forth. I didn’t think we’d put together long scores like that at all. We’re definitely headed in the right direction.”
Coming out of halftime holding a 13-7 lead, quarterback Colin Blazek threw an interception on Venice’s opening drive, but the Indians would go on to score on four straight touchdown passes by Blazek — a 7-yard pass to Weston Wolff, a 24 yard pass to Keyon Sears, a 99-yard pass to Sears and a 34-yard pass to Myles Weston.
Meanwhile, the Indians defense forced three turnovers — two interceptions by Jackson Fleming and a fumble recovery by Martin Ramos — to keep Lakeland in check.
Key Stats: The Indians’ passing attack gave the Lakeland defense trouble all night long. Blazek finished with 19-of-28 passing for 378 yards, 4 TDs and 2 INTs.
On the other hand, Lakeland kept its offense on the ground. Dreadnaughts quarterback Mason Martin completed 5-of-12 for 73 yards, 2 INTs and 1 fumble.
Lakeland couldn’t get its run game going, either. It managed just 154 yards and 2 TDs on 40 carries.
Key Plays: A 47-yard pass from Blazek to Wolff with just under two minutes left in the first half set up Venice to score on a 4-yard run by Dylan Turner — taking a 13-6 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Though the Indians threw an interception on their first drive of the second half, Ramos sacked Martin to pin Lakeland and force a short field. A few plays later, Blazek hit Wolff for a 7-yard score to push the lead to 21-6.
From that point on the Indians cruised to a blowout ending as Sears broke free for scores of 24 and 99 yards — the second of which pushed the lead to 34-12 with 10 minutes to play.
What it means: It’s been difficult to gauge just how good the Indians are. They lost to IMG Academy, but has crushed all of its opponents since — winning by 34 over Raines, by 70 over Lyman, by 28 over Riverview and finally, by 21 over the Dreadnaughts.
The Indians look like a team with realistic state title aspirations at this point.
Quote: “Colin Blazek did an awesome job. Each week we have someone else step up. This week it was Keyon Sears. I think we had five or six receivers with a catch.” - Peacock