Win Over Lake
Laurel 14, Lake Forest 13
Photos: Laurel quarterback Andy Hartstein (top), defensive back Tyler Downes (middle), and linebacker Jamin Pugh (bottom).
Laurel High School head football coach Mike Pugh would tell you the decision to go for a two-point conversion instead of a tying extra point kick against Lake Forest on Friday night wasn't really that difficult.
In fact, it wasn't a decision at all.
The only decision on the Laurel sidelines after quarterback Andy Hartstein hit brother Jimmy Hartstein with a 9-yard touchdown pass to pull the Bulldogs within 13-12 with four minutes left was what kind of two-point conversion play to run.
So, with Andy Hartstein kneeling to take the extra point kick snap to the relief of Laurel fans who remembered that a missed two-point conversion cost the Bulldogs a 14-13 overtime loss to Archmere in the season-opener, only the Laurel players knew that the Bulldogs were going for the win.
And Hartstein cashed in this time with a two-point conversion run on a fake extra point attempt that lifted the Bulldogs to 3-1 in the Henlopen Conference Southern Division and set up a battle for first place with unbeaten Delmar on Friday, Nov. 9.
"We were in the same situation in our first game and it didn't work for us," said Pugh. "Archmere stopped us. But there was no question we were going for two. We were going for the win."
The Bulldogs set up the winning scores when Tyler Downes picked off a Lake Forest pass and returned it to the Lake 10 yard-line midway through the fourth quarter.
"When Tyler got the interception," said Pugh, "and we ended up with the ball down where we did around the 10, we felt real good with our first play call and the coaches started talking about what we would run for the two-point conversion."
The Bulldogs took a 6-0 lead on a 3-yard run by fullback Jamin Pugh in the second period but Lake Forest came back on 31- and 21-yard field goals by Nathan Zabel to tie the game 6-6 in the third quarter.
The Spartans then went ahead 13-6 on a 19-yard run by sophomore quarterback Desmond Felton in the third period.
Laurel was led by 57 yards rushing by Pugh and 41 more by Jermel Horsey. Andy Hartstein completed 7 of 16 passes for 76 yards. Tyler Downes caught 3 passes for 24 yards.
Defensively, Pugh, Eston Ennis and Kyle Thompson recorded 12 tackles apiece. Patrick Belle recovered a fumble and posted a sack.
In rising to 4-4 overall, the Bulldogs could take control of the South with a win against the visiting Wildcats next week. A loss would eliminate them from the South race and the hunt for a state tournament berth.
In Delmar, the Bulldogs face a defending state champion that has been even more dominant this season. The Wildcats shut out Smyrna 27-0 on Nov. 2 to rise to 4-0 in the South and 8-0 overall.
The Wildcats have outscored their conference opponents 145-15 behind a stifling defense and a surprisingly explosive offense.
And even though Delmar whipped a Smyrna team that beat Laurel 18-13 on Oct. 26, coach Pugh believes the Bulldogs have yet to put together their best game.
"We talked about it when we got back from Lake Forest last night as a team," said Pugh. "We really haven't put together our complete game yet and we're going to have to play a complete game against Delmar. They're explosive offensively and come after you on defense. We're just going to have to play a complete game."
The Bulldogs also need to get healthy in a hurry. Laurel was without three defensive starters and two offensive starters against Lake Forest and Pugh said linebacker Jared Collins is still questionable for the Delmar game.
"It's going to be a daggone war," said Pugh. "It's going to be a war."
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