FELTON — DeJuan Outlaw had a sea of Lake Forest High defenders running at him and nowhere to go except out of bounds if he kept running to his right.
So Outlaw reversed course, ran backwards and then all the way across the field to the left sideline where he scored a two-point conversion for Hodgson Vo-Tech Academy.
That play was symbolic of the entire opening night of the high school football season for the Spartans, who just couldn’t find a way to tackle Outlaw.
Outlaw rushed for 221 yards on 29 carries and scored four touchdowns, including the game-winner with 2:50 left, to help lead the Silver Eagles to a 38-30 victory at Lake Forest on Friday evening.
Lake Forest had led 24-14 before back-to-back Outlaw touchdowns and two point conversions gave Hodgson a 30-24 lead with 9:57 remaining. Lake Forest quarterback Noah Feague-Johnson wiggled free for a 64-yard touchdown on an option-keeper to tie it at 30-30 after a missed extra point with 7:55 left.
“It was anybody’s ballgame in the second half,” said Lake coach Freddie Johnson. “When Noah scored I thought our kids would step up. Hodgson showed that they wanted it more than we did. That’s what it boiled down to.”
But the Silver Eagles responded with a 12-play 71-yard drive and eight of those plays were handoffs to Outlaw. Hodgson kept riding the hot hand, giving it to Outlaw on the last five plays to chew up the final 38 yards of the scoring drive.
Outlaw punched it in from two yards out for the score. Then after a holding penalty on the two-point conversion made the Silver Eagles try for it from nine yards out, Outlaw took the toss to the right side before his spin move on the sideline gave him the open space he needed.
On its final drive, Lake Forest had two rushes for a loss before attempting a pass to the left sideline by the first down marker. The Spartans thought they had converted thanks to a pass interference call, but after conferring with each other, the referees picked up the flag.
One incomplete pass later and the Silver Eagles, the two-time defending Division II champions, were celebrating their second straight win over Lake Forest. Hodgson dealt Lake its only loss of the season in 2014, with a first round playoff upset 22-13.
“We knew it was going to be a battle coming in here,” said Hodgson coach Frank Moffett Jr. “Especially since last year, their season ended with us in a first round playoff game. We knew it was going to be a battle. Fred and his team battled for four quarters but we made key plays when we needed them and we got key stops when we needed them.”
With most of the key figures from last year’s contest gone, both sides trotted out lineups with plenty of new faces.
“They’re just as inexperienced as we are,” Johnson said. “They just wanted it more. I was very disappointed with our effort.”
Amir White rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries to lead Lake Forest. Feague-Johnson connected with Trevon Milton for a 29-yard touchdown just before the half to give Lake Forest its first lead of the game.
Austin Aguilar nailed a 25-yard field goal to increase the Spartan lead to 24-14 on the first drive of the second half, but a halftime adjust by Hodgson turned the game back into its favor.
“That was a character check for these guys,” Moffett Jr. said. “We wanted to run the ball in that second half. We felt like we could get by that line and run it right at them, I felt we really had some success there.”