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Lakeland waits out rain to roll past rival Lake Gibson in rare Monday game

The Dreadnaughts wait through an hour and a half weather delay to defeat Braves

LAKELAND, FLORIDA- The Lakeland Dreadnaughts only had to wait out bad weather for 92 minutes before exacting revenge on rival Lake Gibson on Monday night. 

It took them about three quarters to initiate the running clock as the Dreadnaughts got 190 yards rushing from running back D’marius Rucker en route to a 47-14 blowout victory over the Braves at Bryant Stadium on Bill Castle Field. 

Lakeland now improves to 4-0 on the season awhile Lake Gibson drops to 1-4. The Dreadnaughts already have had one game (home versus Largo) get canceled due to adverse weather and couldn’t afford to have another one possibly moved to another week. 

“Oh man, I’m just glad we got it in tonight,” Lakeland head coach Bill Castle said. “I don’t know when we would have played it. We would’ve had to wait until next Monday then Bartow on Friday. It wasn’t the best scenario, but I didn’t know what’s going to happen.”

With Hurricane Ian making its way through Cuba and towards Florida, Lakeland and Lake Gibson moved up its Friday matchup since both were coming off a bye week. Castle’s idea of getting the game moved up may pay off as many contests are getting postponed and moved to next week. 

Monday night, though, was all about Lakeland’s run game that got going behind the play of Rucker. The Dreadnaughts were able to put together a total of 390 yards of offense up and a good portion of that was the rushing attack. 

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Because of the elongated weather delay and the persistence of both head coaches in getting the game in, each team started slow out of the gates. Lakeland (4-0) finally get themselves on the board late in the first quarter when Rucker scored on a 9-yard touchdown run. 

From that point on, the Dreadnaughts seemed to begin clicking on the offensive end and the passing attack joined the party. Lakeland quarterback Zachary Pleuss (6-of-12, 100 yards) connected on a 13-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tyler Williams with 8:54 remaining in the second quarter. 

Just before the first half ended, Lakeland would add another touchdown on the board when Pleuss would sneak it in from two yards out to give the Dreadnaughts a 19-0 lead heading into halftime. 

Lake Gibson (1-4) tried to form semblance of offense against Lakeland’s vaunted defense, but that was much easier said than done. Braves’ quarterback Jackson Akins finished the night completing 4-of-11 passes for 77 yards and an interception. Fentrell Graham led Lake Gibson with 54 yards rushing. 

Lakeland opening up the second half with a scoring drive ending in a 3-yard touchdown run by Larry Jones III and from there, the rout was on. Castle’s crew ended up getting touchdowns from Rucker, Markel Johnson and Donares Johnson to close out the scoring. 

“I feel like I’m just getting back in my groove,” Rucker said. “It’s a process. (The offense) is building chemistry. We’re not where we want to be. We’ve got a lot of room to grow as we are coming together as a great team.”

Andy Villamarzo can be reached at andyvillamarzo@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @Andy_Villamarzo.