Football’s striking offense seizes win over Hubbard, sending Lane into next round of playoffs


Mara Mellits

Lane’s Payton Gavaldon (#2) running the ball back after intercepting a pass in the third quarter of Lane’s win against Hubbard.

By Alex Burstein and Mara Mellits

While one win can’t change a program, a playoff win can certainly help.

In their first playoff game in 10 years, Lane showed that they were a playoff contender, as their offense shined in front of a home crowd at Lane Stadium Oct. 22.

Lane escaped the Hubbard Greyhounds 27-18 to keep their season alive last Friday night, advancing them to the second round of the city playoffs.

Lane’s defense had to adjust to something one almost never sees in football — a nearly exclusive rushing offense.

Across four quarters of play, the Greyhounds threw four total passes, with quarterback Asean Jackson going 2-4, with 16 passing yards and one interception.

Jackson made up for it in just about every other way though, playing as a cornerback and punt returner and logging 99 rushing yards, nearly as many as all of Lane (104 rushing yards) had.

A 32-yard rushing touchdown by Jackson tied the game at 6 with 3:18 to go in the first quarter, and Jackson added a 5-yard touchdown rush to bring Hubbard within 2, 14-12, with 0:43 seconds left in the half.

When all was said and done, it was a combined 217-yard rushing performance by the Greyhounds, who were able to get past the Lane defensive line plenty.

Hubbard has an unorthodox type of offense,” Dewalt said. “So every team that they play with kind of struggled with their offense. So [it was] just tough for us to just kind of minimize the damage, and they had one big, huge run at the end of the game, but for the most part I was kind of satisfied with how our defense kind of contained their run.”

That one big run came from Jumario Johnson, who took the ball 72 yards to the end zone to make it only a three-point deficit for Hubbard, 21-18, with 10:03 left in the game.

Luckily for Lane, their offense was able to match Hubbard’s comeback, with a 1-yard rushing touchdown by Lane’s quarterback, senior Donnell Adams, to give Lane the 27-18 lead after a missed extra point. That would be the last score of the game.

This was just one big play on a highlight reel day for Adams.

Adams threw for 173 yards and had two passing touchdowns, while once again showing his rushing skill by running for 39 yards and two rushing touchdowns. He had a 1-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter as well to put Lane up 14-6 after a two-point conversion pass to senior Benji Agunloye.

Adams, who has taken over the starting role the past couple of games while junior Mark Seward nurses an injury (Seward is still having some soreness with his spine, according to Dewalt), has impressed Dewalt with his play.

Donnell is playing well and at this point in the playoffs, you just got to go with the hot hand,” Dewalt said.

A big help for Adams was strong receiving throughout the game. Senior Payton Gavaldon had two catches for 13 yards, senior Noah Verbrick had four catches for 117 yards and a touchdown, Agunloye had three catches for 32 yards, a touchdown, a two-point conversion and junior Casey Joyce had two receptions, for seven yards. 

“I felt like from the beginning to the end, we were in sync,” Adams said. “It starts in practice, when we talk about a lot of things, you know, situational. But, those are my guys [wide receivers], I love those guys.” 

Some of Adam’s passing success can be attributed to the offensive line, which adjusted after Adams had little time in the pocket during the previous week’s win against Westinghouse. 

Our offensive line gave us time to pass, and they opened up those holes for us to run today and that’s really what won the game for us today, we were able to control the line of scrimmage,” Dewalt said. 

While there was strong play all-around for Lane offensively, Verbrick stole the play of the game. A long pass by Adams from the Hubbard 49-yard line bounced out of the hands of Hubbard’s Jackson right into the hands of Verbrick, who was able to stroll into the end zone to give Lane a 20-12 lead after the extra point with 9:39 to go in the third.

The only other candidate for play of the game was Gavaldon, but on the defensive side of things, where he intercepted one of Jackson’s passes, returning it from around the Lane ten yard line all the way to the Lane 45 yard line late in the third quarter.

“It was huge, especially in the moment that it was,” Gavaldon said. “I think it was just one step making it easier for us to win.”

Lane’s rushing was quieter than usual, with 44 rushing yards from junior Finn Merrill and 21 from senior Michael Asante. But, when they needed rushing production, they got it, according to Dewalt.

The kind of weakness of that defense was the secondary. And so we came into the game plan knowing that we can pass the ball along. But like I said that last drive you know we just fed Finn the ball man he was getting 10 yards a carry so that’s, you know, he kind of closed the game out for us today,” Dewalt said.

Hubbard finishes their season with a 2-7 record, including going 1-3 in Chicago Public – Red Bird Conference play

This win sent Lane into the second round of city playoffs, where they took on Westinghouse.