Lane’s receiving corps comes alive in win over Westinghouse to clinch city berth


Mara Mellits

Lane’s Quarterback Donnell Adams rushes for the first down.

By Alex Burstein and Mara Mellits

For Lane Tech seniors on the football team, playoffs have long been an afterthought. As underclassmen, they saw the team fall 2-6 in the 2019-20 season and 1-9 in the 2018-19 season, and their junior season was cut short due to COVID-19. 

After a 2-5 start to the season, it looked like Lane’s playoff drought would continue into the next season. Especially after a hard loss to Phillips Academy last week and Taft the previous week, it looked like Lane’s season was over. However, when word started circulating earlier this week that a Week 8 win against the Westinghouse Warriors would clinch a city playoff berth, Lane’s senior night clash became much more important. After twelve years without a single city playoff game, the Lane football team defies all expectations heading into this year by setting up their road to city championships. 

And the seniors delivered, showing up in a vital game and winning by 20 points. 

We get a chance to compete for city which is something I’m very excited about for these kids,” Head Football Coach Dedrick Dewalt said postgame. “They deserve it man. They play hard, all year we took some tough losses. So it’s a good thing that they can kind of be rewarded for their hard work this year. I’m very excited for them and I think we’re gonna do well in the playoffs.”

28. 21. 24. Those were the yardage on the three touchdown passes by Lane quarterback Donnell Adams as Lane routed the Westinghouse Warriors 26-6. Adams complemented his 171 yards on the air with 44 rushing yards and a 7-yard rushing touchdown. Lane’s consistent receiving corps showed up this game, putting down the points and securing the victory.

“We’ve kind of shown that all year — even last week against Phillips, we were able to pass the ball and catch some touchdowns against Phillips — but we’ve been able to do that all year,” Dewalt said.

Despite the scoreboard flashing a 20-point victory, the stat sheet showed another story. The Warriors would end up outproducing Lane in yardage, with 264 all-purpose yards compared to to Lane’s 251.

But what ended up getting Westinghouse was their lack of converting their yards to points which Lane easily did, putting up 26 points. 

Shortly after Lane’s seniors were honored on the field pre-game, they started showing off on the field.

In their first drive of the game, Lane drove 59 yards up the field, with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Adams to Benji Agunloye with seven minutes left in the first.   

Agunloye’s night wasn’t over though, as the senior wide receiver would pull in a 24-yard touchdown reception by Adams with 8:19 left in the game. The two-point conversion attempt was no good. Agunloye would finish the game with 55 yards receiving off of three receptions.

I mean before the game [I] talked [with Adams], we knew we were gonna have a good game,” Agunloye said postgame. “I trusted him to make plays, and he didn’t let me down.” 

Back to the first quarter, Lane’s offense would get a really short rest, after an onside kick was recovered by Lane. With a 6-0 lead (a bad snap ruined Lane’s first extra-point attempt), Adams got to work on the Westinghouse 29 yard line.

With a short field ahead, it would take Lane only three plays to find the end zone, with a 21-yard touchdown reception by Payton Gavaldon extending Lane’s lead with 5:57 left in the first quarter.

Mark Seward, who has seen plenty of action at quarterback this year, came in for the two-point conversion and complete a pass to Benji Agunloye to put Lane up 14-0. That would be Seward’s only play of the game. After the game, Dewalt told The Champion that Seward is still nursing a back injury.

Lane’s other score would come on the ground, with the aforementioned seven-yard touchdown rush with 10:20 left in the third. Adams, who started this year more as a rushing quarterback, showed off his arm this game but still kept up a consistent run game.

Part of this may have been because of constant pressure by the Warriors’ defensive line, forcing Adams to make some quick passes. The offensive line, which has struggled all season, allowed two sacks, one for a loss of 13 yards and another for 8. 

If the O-line gives my quarterback some time, they can make the reads and we can make some completions,” Dewalt said.

Adams also had one interception picked off in the first quarter. 

Lane’s defense also got an interception at the end of the fourth by Gavaldon. The defense put up a strong fight, only allowing six points. 

Even though those interceptions didn’t convert anything for the Warrior offense, their strong defensive line was one of the highlights for them. On the offensive side, the Warriors had 192 rushing yards, which was led by 62 yards rushing from Tyler Randall on five carries.

Randall would be the sole scorer for Westinghouse, with a three-yard rushing touchdown with 7:34 left in the second quarter. The two-point conversion was no good ending Westinghouse’s chances of scoring for the rest of the game. 

The game saw a major delay when Westinghouse’s Dewayne Brooks was brought to the ground with 8:29 left in the first half. Brooks, one of the top rushers for Westinghouse, had to be stretchered off and brought to an ambulance that had come into Lane Stadium. 

On the passing side for the Warriors, Zayvian Diaz played most of the game, putting up 66 yards passing, before Askia Bullie came in late third quarter. Diaz did a little bit of everything for Westinghouse, also serving as their kicker and coming in as a wide receiver late in the game.

The loss boots Westinghouse out of playoff contention, though they will get a week 9 game against an opponent that will be announced.

Lane will start their city playoff journey next week as well, also against an opponent that will be announced.

We’re not overlooking anyone,” Agunloye said. “We can lose to any team, same way we could beat any team, so we’re ready.”