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Daily Herald's 2016 Season Coverage
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updated: 10/21/2016 11:24 PM

Lakes turns it up with second-half surge

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By Jeff Newton
Daily Herald Correspondent

It was relatively quiet at halftime of final regular season Northern Lake County Conference contest between Lakes and North Chicago.

The host Eagles found themselves trailing the Warhawks 28-21 at the break -- but there didn't seem to be any panic on the Eagles' sideline.

"There wasn't much to say at halftime to these guys," Lakes coach Luke Mertens said. "I think we kind of got caught looking ahead, and in the second half we responded."

Lakes scored every time it had the ball but twice in the second half and rode a strong third and fourth quarter from sophomore DeAngelo Hardy to push past North Chicago 63-35 Friday night.

Lakes (6-3, 5-2), is guaranteed a berth in the state playoffs in likely the Class 6A bracket or possible Class 5A. Much like the rest of the qualifiers, the Eagles will find out the specifics Saturday night.

"For us it isn't about winning conference championships or going 9-0," Mertens said. "It's always been about getting to 6 wins and then going into the playoffs and that's what we have done for ourselves. But we have to play a lot better."

The Warhawks made things tough on the Eagles early, scoring on three straight possessions in the first half to take leads of 21-7 and 28-14. Senior Taykes McKnight accounted for a pair of long touchdown runs in the second quarter to help North Chicago (3-6, 2-5) take the halftime lead.

Hardy, who rushed for 133 yards after halftime got things going with a 21-yard scoring run on the first drive of the second half to knot the game at 28-28. Then a 10-yard run by Northwestern recruit Cameron Ruiz gave the Eagles the lead for the first time since an early 7-0 advantage.

Ruiz rushed for 191 yards and accounted for 4 touchdowns on the night despite having missed much of practice all week with hip and ankle injuries.

"We weren't sure if Cameron could go so we were going to relay on Hardy and he stepped up," Mertens said.

Hardy added his second score of the night from 3 yards out to give the Eagles the lead for good at 42-35 with 1:03 left in the third quarter.

"I think we took it not so serious at first," Hardy said. "But at halftime we turned things around and got back to doing what we do."

Hardy accounted for the Eagles' final score on a 19-yard run. Brandon Khan had a pair of touchdown passes in the fourth quarter of 9 and 17 yards to Danny Touhy to go with his 22-yard scoring pass to Ruiz in the second quarter.

Ruiz had touchdown runs to 43 yards and 1 yard in the first half to keep the Eagles close.

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