Visiting Lakes had to take the good with the bad Friday night in its North Suburban Conference football game at Wauconda.
A massive amount of penalties proved to be a real thorn in the Eagles' side for the better part of the contest. But they still managed to come away with a convincing 36-14 NSC Prairie Division victory over the Bulldogs.
Lakes (4-1, 3-0) built a 20-7 halftime lead despite being whistled for 10 penalties for 105 yards in the first half alone.
The Eagles wound up building a 29-7 lead after three quarters behind the strength of running back Cameron Johnson (127 yards on 19 carries) and the leadership of quarterback T.J. Edwards (77 yards on 6 rushes, 8-for-17 passing for 140 yards).
But Lakes coach Luke Mertens was pretty disappointed that his squad accumulated 160 yards on 15 penalties in the contest.
"We did not represent our program like we should and it was a complete lack of discipline," said Mertens, whose team had 413 total yards of offense to only 49 for Wauconda. "I don't care what the scoreboard says, that was a horrible job across the board and it's my fault as a coach that we don't have discipline."
The Bulldogs (3-2, 1-2) fell behind 7-0 right away when Edwards faked a pitch and raced 40 yards for the touchdown before Cody Brumm's extra point made the score 7-0 just 1:57 into the first quarter.
After a failed onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, a 13-yard pass from Wauconda quarterback Kevin Malisheski to Jake Grobelny got the Bulldogs offense rolling.
Then a 5 and a 15-yard facemask penalty on Lakes put the ball on the Eagles' 11-yard-line.
Two plays later, Malisheski hit Josh Anderson with a 10-yard pass before teammate Ray Sadoski scored on a 1-yard TD run two plays later. Wauconda's Adolfo Carrillo booted the extra point to deadlock the score at 7-7 midway through the opening quarter and it looked like the game would be pretty competitive.
But offense would be very hard to come by for the Bulldogs the rest of the way as they could not establish a running game while Malisheski was under heavy pressure all game long.
Wauconda only had 1 penalty for 5 yards in the first half before compiling 6 penalties for 50 yards overall.
"The one thing I'm most disappointed in is the amount of penalties and I would have liked to see a cleaner game by both teams," said Wauconda coach Dave Mills. "We knew coming in they have four of the better running backs in the conference. And you wish them good luck in the playoffs. Now it's our job to get in the playoffs."
A 14-yard TD pass from Edwards to Devyn Cedzidlo early in the second quarter put the Eagles ahead 14-7.
Then after an interception by Lakes' Joey Pausa, the Eagles scored again when the powerful 5-foot-6, 200-pound Johnson scored on a 7-yard TD run for a 20-7 advantage. Johnson ran over a Wauconda defender on a 25-yard run on Lakes' previous scoring drive.
"We still have to tweak a few things, but overall it's another win," said Johnson. "We want to get to state and that is our main goal and our top priority."
Two penalties on the same play on Wauconda were a key to Lakes' next scoring drive midway through the third quarter.
Johnson wound up scoring on a 1-yard plunge to make the score 27-7 with 4:56 left in the period.
Poor field position really plagued Wauconda in the second half and that would lead to a safety and a 29-7 lead when the Bulldogs snapped the ball out of the end zone with 31 seconds left in the third quarter.
Then the Eagles really put the game out of reach as Cedzidlo (44 yards on 13 rushes) scored on a 3-yard TD run with 7:20 left to give Lakes a commanding 36-7 lead.
"We were missing five starters," said Mertens. "But we had some guys step up and play a fairly significant role in this game."
An 18-yard run by Wauconda running back Alex Payne was followed by a 7-yard TD run by Payne with 3:42 to play to account for the final score.
Lakes has now won 12 straight Prairie Division games dating back to 2011 when it lost to Antioch.