October 02, 2013 - By Joe St. Henry
Special to The Review
A tight football game turned into a rout at Ford Field last Saturday, as Lake Orion scored 35 straight points in the second half to defeat Troy, 52-17.
The win improves the Dragons' record to 4-1 (3-1 OAA Red).
Lake Orion was sparked by senior wide receiver Corey Ester, who rushed for 75 yards and a touchdown, plus caught a scoring pass in the third quarter that put his team ahead for good. Ester's day also included a 33-yard punt return that set up another touchdown in the final quarter, helping him earn the Gridiron Classic's MVP honors.
"Corey played tremendous, but a lot of guys made big plays for us," Head Coach Chris Bell said. "With our speed, if we do a good job blocking it's just a matter of time before we break loose."
As explosive as Lake Orion's offense was in the second half, it struggled with three fumbles earlier in the game.
The Dragons only touchdown in the first half came on a defensive play, when senior defensive back Charlie Khoury returned a Colt fumble on their first possession 26 yards for the score and a 7-0 lead five minutes into the game.
Senior kicker Brad Schaenzer nailed a 35-yard field goal at the 1:25 mark of the second quarter to put Lake Orion up 10-3 at the break.
Bell said Lake Orion's defense and special teams played outstanding in the first half, holding Troy to a lone field goal in seven first-half offensive drives.
The head coach pointed out the strong defensive efforts of sophomores Bay Smart and Jack McClear, and juniors Jack Luby and Logan Shadaia, in particular.
After Ester's touchdown run gave Lake Orion a 17-3 advantage in the third quarter, Troy scored on two long pass plays to tie the game and seemingly grab momentum.
The Dragons responded, however, by mounting a nine-play, 66-yard yard, capped by senior quarterback Connor Grant's 19-yard scoring pass to Ester to give Lake Orion a 24-17 lead at the end the quarter.
The Dragons' defense started the fourth quarter by sacking the Troy quarterback at his own one-yard line, forcing the punt that Ester returned one yard short of the end zone.
On the next play Grant kept the ball on a short touchdown run to put Lake Orion up 31-17.
On the next Colt possession, the Dragons' defense made another big play, forcing a fumble that was picked up by Shadaia who rumbled 18 yards into the endzone, extending the Lake Orion lead to 38-17.
The Dragon defenders held Troy's rushing attack to seven net yards.
"We're young defensively and they're really starting to play well," Bell said.
Less than two minutes later after another Troy punt, the Dragons' offensive surge continued with senior wide receiver Zach Arnold streaking 65 yards to cap a two-play touchdown drive, giving Lake Orion a 45-17 lead.
The scoring ended with a little over a minute left in the game when senior running back Justin Pavliscak found the end zone on a ten-yard run.
Lake Orion ran for a total of 318 yards, led by junior Matt Krause's 107 on 17 carries.
This week the Dragons travel to Rochester, which has a 3-2 record.
"They return their front seven and are very solid defensively," Bell said. "They also return most of their offensive line. I expect a physical game. It will be another good test."